Tap the brakes: School Board vacancy too important to rush

The Clark County School Board is rushing to replace departed President Terri Janison. Trustees are in such a hurry that they could appoint a new representative for District E as soon as today — immediately after publicly interviewing 13 applicants for the post.

Businesses routinely ask job candidates to return for second interviews for a reason: important decisions shouldn’t be made in haste with minimal information. The board should take that cue and embrace a more deliberate process that involves the public — and delay the naming of Ms. Janison’s successor by at least a few weeks.

Ms. Janison resigned from the School Board last month to run Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Las Vegas office and become his director of community relations. But state law does not allow special elections to fill vacancies on countywide school boards. Sitting trustees get to make that decision.

So starting at 8:30 a.m., the six remaining members of the School Board will hold interviews with the baker’s dozen. Giving each applicant just 45 minutes to discuss qualifications and priorities would take about 10 hours — with no breaks. Considering the country’s fifth-largest school district faces difficult budget decisions and desperately needs to be reformed, viable candidates for the District E seat could talk education for two hours without addressing key concerns.

To be sure, some of the applicants to replace Ms. Janison are not particularly impressive. But there are a handful of worthy candidates with different strengths and backgrounds who deserve more consideration than is possible in a condensed format.

The School Board should indeed take action after today’s interviews, but only to narrow the field. The selection of three or four finalists would give the taxpayers of District E an opportunity to learn about their potential representatives and perhaps even meet them for the first time. Voters could then contact the board to offer their endorsements and express what they want from their trustee.

If the School Board makes a final decision on Ms. Janison’s replacement today, it will open itself to criticism that trustees had a favored candidate all along, and that the public interviews were a charade and a waste of the public’s time.

It’s in everyone’s interest for the School Board to tap the brakes here.

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