TITLE 5. OPEN GOVERNMENT; ETHICS
SUBTITLE A. OPEN GOVERNMENT
CHAPTER 552. PUBLIC INFORMATION
Sec. 552.021. AVAILABILITY OF PUBLIC INFORMATION. Public information is available to the public at a minimum during the normal business hours of the governmental body.
Sec. 552.126. EXCEPTION: CONFIDENTIALITY OF NAME OF APPLICANT FOR SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT. The name of an applicant for the position of superintendent of a public school district is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021, except that the board of trustees must give public notice of the name or names of the finalists being considered for the position at least 21 days before the date of the meeting at which a final action or vote is to be taken on the employment of the person.
"The legislature understood at the time they formulated this law into statute that the nature of the superintendent’s position is unique and highly volatile; unlike any other public service responsibility. Accordingly, when a sitting superintendent has a good job and is recruited for another position or if he/she decides to seek employment elsewhere for whatever reason, a good situation can turn negative very quickly – people could (and very often do) misunderstand his/her reasons for applying elsewhere and begin to undermine that superintendent’s effectiveness.
Therefore, the legislature determined that school boards needed maximum opportunity to find the best person for their district rather than only those 'looking for a job.' The law as currently written requires the board to release the name of all the 'finalists' for the position. We encourage boards to designate only one 'finalist”'and that way all the other candidates will not be subject to unnecessary and unwarranted criticism in their current district. During this 21 days, everyone can learn as much as they need to about the 'lone finalist' before he/she is formally employed. It also gives the board time to conduct the required criminal history check, to finalize any contract negotiations and tie up any other loose ends. Neither party is under any obligation to follow through.
Schools in other states release names of all applicants. Their numbers of applicants typically run in single digits. * If they are very lucky, they may reach the low teens. Whereas, our searches have applicants that number in the thirties and forties. In a district perceived as a great job by applicants and in a location that is very popular, sixty applicants and more is not unusual.
This legislation has turned out to be very positive and ensures that Texas school boards will have a large pool of quality applicants."
© Jim Dunlap, 2015
* "Six educators apply for Bossier superintendent vacancy" - Shreveport Times, March 25, 2019