Vetting for state superintendent of schools candidates raises concerns

The state started accepting applications this week for Nevada’s superintendent of public schools, and there’s already concern about the vetting process.

Under a law passed in 2011, Gov. Brian Sandoval will pick the new state superintendent. He is expected to fill the job by August, but some state education officials are critical of being ordered to nominate three finalists without conducting interviews before making recommendations to Sandoval.

“We’re talking about the leader of education for the state,” said Mark Newburn, who represents the 4th Congressional District on the State Board of Education.

State board members were told at a Thursday meeting that they will be given a list of six finalists chosen by the governor from the applicant pool. The board must whittle the list to three finalists at a July 25 meeting and present these top choices to the governor. Sandoval will then name the new superintendent.

But board members are forbidden to contact or question any of the six finalists and must rely only on their resumes, applications and research done by the state Human Resources Management Division, according to Lee-Ann Easton, administrator of the division.

How applicants look on paper will be the only factor taken into consideration by the board.

When asked why no interviews would be done unlike the last superintendent search in 2012 – also under the new law – Easton said it’s because of the cost to bring each of the six finalists here and hold interviews.

“I’m a little concerned we’re attempting to do this on the cheap,” said Newburn, after other board members questioned Easton about the vetting restrictions.

Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279.