36 apply to be next superintendent

Published 10:26 pm Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Suffolk School Board began the process of choosing the school division’s new superintendent Wednesday during a closed meeting at the College and Career Academy at Pruden.

The job to replace outgoing superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney, who announced his retirement April 11, received 36 applications and 41 inquiries.

Though no names were released, 16 of the 36 candidates have current or prior superintendent experience, and another 11 are either assistant, associate or deputy superintendents. Another five are central office administrators, three are principals or building-level administrators, and one candidate was not classified.

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Of the 27 men and nine women who have applied for the job, 11 are from Virginia and the other 25 come from 14 states and Puerto Rico. That includes three candidates from Pennsylvania and North Carolina, two each from Georgia, Maryland, Missouri and Tennessee, and one each from Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Puerto Rico and Texas.

The board has 180 days from Whitney’s official retirement date of Sept. 1 to name a superintendent.

“We’re doing well on steps to finding a new superintendent,” said board member Sherri Story. “We and the public can feel confident in the process.”

Following a closed session at its Thursday meeting, the board named Dr. LaToya Harrison as its interim superintendent. The board also voted to authorize a 25-percent pay increase for Harrison while she serves as interim superintendent.

Harrison, an assistant superintendent, has been serving as superintendent-designee with Whitney on leave. The salaries for both Harrison and assistant superintendent Dr. Suzanne Rice are a combined $262,858 in the current budget.

Whitney was deputy superintendent prior to Dr. Milton Liverman’s retirement in 2010, and became superintendent in January 2011. After Liverman retired, Whitney was one of 17 people who applied for the superintendent’s job, and that application pool narrowed to four — two from Suffolk Public Schools — before Whitney was selected.

The Virginia School Boards Association has been conducting the search for a new superintendent, with applications closing on the position Aug. 2. VSBA met with the board in June to discuss the search process. After a public survey, the board approved the characteristics it wants to see in a superintendent.

The board will begin interviewing candidates at an undisclosed location between Aug. 14 and Aug. 28.