Some administrators might not want to return a call from the man looking for an interim superintendent for Hamburg Central schools.
But longtime educator and now search consultant Vincent J. Coppola said he has gotten the opposite reaction: He has had no trouble finding administrators interested in taking over the troubled district.
The district, where the fractured board is trying to get rid of one of its members, took on a new level of chaos last week when the superintendent admitted that he lied about vandals damaging his car.
Superintendent Richard E. Jetter was charged with filing a false police report by Hamburg village police. The board appointed Colleen Kaney, assistant superintendent for student services, curriculum and instruction, as acting superintendent.
Meanwhile Coppola, who conducted the search for a new superintendent that culminated in the hiring of Jetter, is helping the district find an interim superintendent.
“We have made contact with some potential interim candidates,” he said. “I will not reveal those names.”
He has talked to retired superintendents, some experienced at serving as interim superintendents and all experienced in working with school boards. Some would welcome the challenge, he said.
“There are people who are interested in the job,” he said. “The one caveat most of them have is they want to get the board to function as a team, to try to get people working together.”
He said he anticipates the School Board may interview three or four candidates for the interim position in the next several weeks.
“We’re hoping the interim, whoever he or she is, is going to be able to restore some calmness in the district to help restore and rebuild trust within the school community, to try to garner and gain the respect that has been lost over the past few years of a district that has always been highly regarded in Western New York,” Coppola said.
There were 19 applications last winter for the superintendent’s job, and the board looked at 11 résumés, interviewed six candidates and whittled those down to three finalists, Coppola said.
He said he anticipates sitting down with the board this fall to discuss a timeline for finding a permanent superintendent.
“There are teachers and school administrators in the district, along with support staff, that have been working very hard through all the events that have occurred the last three years,” he said, adding they have done their best not to get distracted. “But it hasn’t been easy for them.”
Coppola, who lives in the Hamburg school district, was paid $12,500 plus expenses for the search that ended with Jetter’s appointment in March. Coppola’s contract with the district requires him to complete another search for just the cost of expenses should the new superintendent be dismissed or leave voluntarily within the first 18 months. It’s a clause he puts in all his search contracts, he said.
“It is the first time that I’ve ever had to do a second search in 16 years,” he said. “Even if that clause had not been in the contract, I still would have done the second search at no cost to the district, because I feel badly about what has happened.”