Hamilton passes on post
By Kathryn Schiliro
Morgan County High School Assistant Principal Eric Hamilton withdrew his name from consideration for the position of MCHS principal, despite the county Board of Education's (BOE) decision to name him to the helm of the school on Monday night.
"I really just kind of decided that, at the time, it wasn't right for me to pursue that position and that it would be better to withdraw my name," Hamilton said in an interview Tuesday. "After careful reflection, it just wasn't the right thing for me to do professionally at this time."
Following a closed session at their meeting Monday night, the BOE voted unanimously to approve the personnel list, which included naming Hamilton MCHS principal.
Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett discovered Tuesday morning that Hamilton sent him an e-mail Monday at 5:22 p.m., while Bennett was in a meeting, informing Bennett he'd elected to withdraw his application from the candidate pool.
Because Bennett was in a meeting with the high school's Governance Council at the time the e-mail was sent and went straight into the BOE meeting at 6 p.m., he never received Hamilton's e-mail. Needless to say, Tuesday morning he began to take action asking the governance council and BOE about brainstorming options as to how to proceed.
As far as what's on the table, the school board may elect to chose a current system employee to fill in as interim principal of MCHS or, Bennett said, may start the process again and go through it over the summer.
"We don't want to rush into any decision and we want to chose the option that makes the most sense," Bennett said.
Hamilton was chosen to lead the high school in a process similar to that recently used to name Lydia Norburg principal of Morgan County Middle School. Following Wilson's resignation announcement in March – he's planning to start his own educational consulting firm – the school system advertised the position on the TeachGeorgia website, "the official state source to find educator employment opportunities in Georgia public schools."
Forty-five applications were received from that posting, according to Bennett.
Bennett screened the initial 45 candidates, weeding out those who didn't meet the minimum requirements – Specialist or Doctorate-level Educational Leadership Certification by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC) and at least three years of leadership experience in a public school setting, for example – or who had any type of PSC violations reported against them. After this, there were 16 or 17 candidates left; then, the high school's Governance Council, made up of 14 students, parents, teachers and business and community members, took the reigns.
The council went though and chose nine applicants to interview. In the meantime, two of those nine withdrew their applications, leaving the council with seven. Of those seven, the council recommended three to Bennett, one of which withdrew his application at this point.
Every applicant, save for Hamilton, was external of the school system, according to Bennett. He interviewed the two and ended up recommending Hamilton to the BOE Monday in their closed session with the MCHS Governance Council present.
Bennett Monday cited Hamilton's skills as an "instructional leader" as part of what stood out to him in recommending him to the BOE.
Governance Council Chairman Julie Speyer Tuesday cited his "overall knowledge of the school" and "enthusiasm for students" as some of the reasons the council backed him for the post.
"I certainly appreciate – the superintendent, school board and school council – their confidence that I could perform the job," Hamilton said Tuesday. "I don't think the timing's right."
Hamilton is in his fifth year as MCHS assistant principal.
As for the possibility of calling the other finalist back to offer the job, Bennett said, "We called each one and said we decided to go with someone else. To call now would be saying, 'Well, you're not our first choice.'"
However, Bennett did say that opening up the process again over the summer may attract a greater number of viable candidates to apply.
"It might open up a bigger applicant pool just because folks would realize we don't have any internal candidates for the second round," Bennett said.
Printed in the May 17, 2012 edition.