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Spotsylvania School Board received 21 applications for superintendent position

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The Spotsylvania County School Board received 21 applications for the position of superintendent and interviewed five candidates, the division’s new manager of executive communications, Jon Russell, said Wednesday.

The School Board on Aug. 25 approved by a slim margin a motion to recommend attorney and former Spotsylvania County Administrator Mark Taylor for the position.

Taylor must first be licensed as a superintendent by the Virginia Board of Education.

Taylor has no background or experience in public education, but according to School Board members who approved his recommendation, he qualifies to receive a superintendent license under Option IV of Virginia Code’s licensure regulations, since he has the equivalent of a master’s degree and three years of successful senior leadership experience.

Taylor left Spotsylvania in 2019 and was hired by the Greene County Board of Supervisors as county administrator.

He and his wife sit on the board of Spotsylvania School Board Chair Kirk Twigg’s nonprofit, Emerging Stars, and his wife wrote letters to the editor in support of Twigg’s campaigns for School Board in 2015 and 2019.

The School Board in May signed a $25,000 contract with GR Recruiting to conduct a national search for a new superintendent.

According to the job posting on GR Recruiting’s website, which was agreed upon in May by the School Board, the successful candidate was to be “a trusted public education leader who values ethics and integrity by practicing moral authority and leads by example through honest practices.”

Other requested qualifications included someone who understands finance, “someone who promotes a ‘student-first’ philosophy” and someone who “provides sustained, systemic, and evidence-based interventions to obtain equitable access to learning for ALL students.”

Russell said School Board members were given a number matrix to score the five candidates who were interviewed.

Applications for the position were due June 17, according to the job posting on GR Recruiting’s website. Completed applications were to include a letter of interest, the online application form, a résumé or curriculum vitae and three letters of reference.

Marie Durrer, chair of the Greene County Board of Supervisors, said on Tuesday that, to her knowledge, that board has not been contacted regarding references for Taylor.

Greene County’s deputy county administrator, Tracy Morris, responded to an emailed question about whether county staff had been contacted regarding references for Taylor by stating, “The information requested below is regarding a personnel matter and is not subject to FOIA.”

Last week, Spotsylvania School Board member Dawn Shelley requested that GR Recruiting president Gary Ray provide her with the timestamp indicating when Taylor’s application was received.

Shelley said Wednesday that she made the request because, “I was told that he was a late submission requested to be added to the package of top candidates for the board by Mr. Twigg.”

Ray told Shelley in a Sept. 1 email that he “cannot act on something that was discussed and covered in a closed meeting or at an individual Board member’s request” and said he would forward her request to Twigg.

Shelley on Sept. 3 requested the same information in an email to Twigg, which as of Thursday had not been answered.

Taylor’s name and the fact that the School Board was considering him for the position of superintendent has been public knowledge since the Aug. 17 Virginia Board of Education meeting, at which his name was included on a list of qualified candidates seeking licensure, even though the School Board had not yet taken a vote in public to recommend him.

At that meeting, the Board of Education pulled Taylor’s name from the list of candidates for licensure to gather more information from the school division.

Twigg spoke during public comments at the Aug. 17 meeting and informed the Board of Education that it had received a “confidential” letter regarding Taylor.

Taylor’s name is expected to be included in the list of candidates seeking licensure for the Board of Education’s approval at its Sept. 15 meeting.

As of Thursday, Taylor had not responded to questions from The Free Lance–Star about his goals for the school division, should he get the job of superintendent.

A group of community members are planning a rally to express concerns about Taylor’s suitability to be superintendent during the School Board’s next regular meeting on Monday.

Adele Uphaus–Conner: 540/735-1973

auphaus@freelancestar.com

@flsadele

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