Metro Nashville Public Schools will soon begin searching for a new superintendent, after director Shawn Joseph said this week that he doesn't plan to ask for a contract extension beyond 2020. If the board decides fire Joseph — as some members have suggested — the position may need to be filled earlier.
But public conflict within the board could impact its ability to attract diverse and high-quality candidates, some observers are saying, because tension on the board has been visible at recent meetings.
"I think you’re going to get second-rate candidates to interview in Nashville," says Metro Councilman Ed Kindall, a former school board member. "To get a good superintendent is going to be difficult."
Some of Joseph’s critics have vocally denounced his leadership. Kindall, a member of the Metro Council's Minority Caucus, believes Joseph’s treatment has to do with the fact that he’s black.
"I think to get [an applicant] of color is gonna be impossible," said Kindall.
Nashville school board member Gini Pupo-Walker agrees the board’s behavior has been getting bad press. But she still thinks qualified candidates, including people of color, will want to come to Nashville.
"I’ve had people in the past tell me they’d be interested in applying for that job," she says. "I think it depends on how we proceed."
Pupo-Walker says that if the board works amicably with Joseph as he prepares for his departure, it can build its reputation back up.