JCPS considering South Carolina candidate for top academic job
A South Carolina educator has emerged as the top candidate for chief academic officer for Jefferson County Public Schools.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A South Carolina educator is scheduled to be in town this week to meet with Jefferson County Public Schools staff for one of the district's top academic openings.
Lisa Herring, who most recently served as deputy superintendent of the Charleston County School District, is a candidate for the chief academic officer position at JCPS, multiple school district sources who are not authorized to speak publicly told WDRB News.
JCPS officials were unable to confirm Herring's schedule or immediately provide a copy of her resume on Monday.
"The district is in the process of interviewing candidates for chief academic officer," said Allison Martin, a spokeswoman for JCPS. "It's an ongoing process in which multiple candidates are being interviewed."
Superintendent Donna Hargens has been searching for a chief academic officer since the resignation of Dewey Hensley last October. On numerous occasions, Hargens told WDRB she was "taking her time finding someone to fill the job," saying the district was "not going to rush into hiring anyone."
Neither Hargens nor Herring could immediately be reached for comment on Monday.
In his resignation letter, Hensley -- who had been chief academic officer for JCPS since 2012 -- referred to his growing frustration with his position, saying that after the first year of his tenure, "it has been a challenge to be heard above the 'noise' of indecision, the circling buzz of perception, and the hammer strikes to fabricate an image."
Hensley's resignation caught Hargens and members of the Jefferson County Board of Education by surprise and came just a week after test scores were released.
Test scores in JCPS declined during the 2014-15 year and the district's graduation rate remained the same as last year, while the number of students considered college and career ready increased by about 2 percent.
Herring has been in Charleston since 2009, first serving as executive director for student support for about five years until she was promoted to associate superintendent of academic and instructional support and then chief academic officer by former Charleston School Superintendent Nancy McGinley, who also resigned from her job.
Last summer, she hired an attorney to renegotiate her contract soon after Charleston County Schools named its new superintendent in July and in September, Herring was named deputy superintendent of academics in Charleston after she accepted a buyout worth more than $220,000 from the school board, according to an article in The Post and Courier and her LinkedIn profile.
According to statement from the district at the time, Herring's new role was "created so that the district can continue to benefit from the skills and talent Dr. Herring has brought to our schools, while accommodating her desire for more flexibility to pursue other professional opportunities."
Herring's buyout came six months after she was named one of the candidates for the superintendent job in Charleston, but was not hired by the school board. Around that same time -- April 2015 -- Herring was also a finalist for the superintendent job in Birmingham City Schools in Alabama.
Herring's contract with Charleston expires June 30. According to her re-negotiated contract obtained by WDRB News, the Charleston district will pay Herring a $45,000 severance package and up to $35,000 in attorneys’ fees that were incurred during the negotiation process.
In December, Herring's name was mentioned in an article about a $18 million budget shortfall in Charleston County Schools. Of the $8.75 million in overexpenditures last school year, at least $4 million took place in departments that answered to a subordinate of Herring, the newspaper article states.
According to the article, Herring said she did not oversee the departments’ budgets.
Recent test scores for Charleston County Schools -- a district of approximately 50,000 students -- show a large achievement gap between student groups, particularly black and white students.
According to Herring's LinkedIn page, she began her career as a teacher in Pennsylvania in 1994. In 1999, she joined DeKalb County Schools near Atlanta as a middle school counselor and then as assistant director of student support services. In 2006, she joined the Bibb County School District in Macon, Ga. as the director of student support services.
Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.
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