Former Superintendent of Schools Rick Smith, center, sits in his place during a Hamilton County School Board meeting.

The next leader of Hamilton County Schools could be an educator, a CEO or a retired military commander, as eight people with an array of backgrounds applied for the position.

Thursday was the deadline to submit a resume to the Hamilton County Board of Education to be considered for the interim superintendent post. The school board is expected to discuss the candidates April 14 and could make a decision as soon as April 21.


Hamilton County Schools interim superintendent applicants


The applicants are:

- Kirk Kelly, acting superintendent and former assistant superintendent of testing and accountability for Hamilton County schools

- Jill Levine, principal at Normal Park Museum Magnet School

- Shaun Sadler, retired commanding officer with the United States Marine Corps

- Robert Purifico, president and CEO of We R 3C Inc., a New Jersey nonprofit

- Robert Christensen, retired assoaciate professor at Oklahoma State University

- Bobbie Floyd, leasing consultant at Steeplechase Apartments

- Dwight Mayberry, program director at Mayberry Afterschool Learning Centers

- Yashika Ward, property manager at the Chattanooga Housing Authority

School board Chairman Jonathan Welch released the names of the candidates late Thursday night, and Friday morning the school system released additional background information on each candidate.

This is the second time the school board has accepted applications for the interim position this year. Five people previously applied in early March, when many expected the school board was going to buy out or fire former Superintendent Rick Smith after three tumultuous months following the rape of an Ooltewah High School freshman, allegedly by three of his basketball teammates.

The school board instead voted 5-4 on March 7 to retain Smith, but Smith stepped down from the helm a week later.

On March 17, the school board reopened the search for an interim superintendent and voted 6-3 to make the only qualification for the position a bachelor's degree — the state's minimum requirement — allowing non-educators a chance at the job. The board also decided an interim can be considered for the long-term superintendent position.

Jill Levine, principal at Normal Park Museum Magnet School, said if chosen to be superintendent she plans to work to ensure that every student in the county has access to an innovative, engaging and purposeful education that prepares them for college or career.

"We must continuously ask ourselves what percentage of our children have access to high quality education in Hamilton County," Levine said in a prepared statement Thursday. "We must consistently measure the percentage of students who will be prepared to join the future workforce. And, then, we must work tirelessly to increase those percentages."

Levine said she understands the importance of recognizing and leveraging local talent and has a proven track record of hiring highly effective teachers, inspiring them to work toward a common vision and empowering them to effect positive change.

Sadler, a retired commanding officer with the United States Marine Corps, also applied for the position in late February.

Sadler said Thursday he reapplied for the position after Smith resigned in March because he sees an incredible opportunity to improve the school system for the community, which will directly benefit students both educationally and vocationally.

"There is a huge job in front of us to get this program turned around and headed in the right direction," he said, adding that significant changes within the school system are needed.

Some school board members and teachers have voiced concern about a non-educator being appointed to the post, but Sadler said Thursday he has spent a career as an aviation instructor and master instructor in the military, and he feels prepared for the job despite not having a degree in education.

Kelly, along with Assistant Superintendent Lee McDade, was named acting superintendent of Hamilton County Schools on March 17.

Thursday night, Kelly said, "I'm trying to make the school system the best educational environment I can for the students and the best possible environment for teachers."

Attempts to reach Purifico, Ward, Christensen, Floyd and Mayberry were unsuccessful late Thursday night, and the contact information for the candidates has not been released.

Purifico, of New Jersey, previously applied for the position in early March, and according to a resume provided to the Times Free Press, leads a nonprofit that encourages community involvement in solving issues of school bullying, and previously worked as a consultant and conducted literacy reviews in low-income urban schools in Georgia and Massachusetts.

Ward ran in 2014 for the District 5 school board seat and was defeated by Karitsa Mosley.

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at or 423-757-6592. Follow on twitter @kendi_and.