McGinley fails to make cut for Berkeley job

Nancy McGinley

MONCKS CORNER — Former Charleston County School District Superintendent Nancy McGinley will not be commuting to Moncks Corner.

McGinley, 60, was one of six semifinalists for the top job at Berkeley County School District, but was not named a finalist Tuesday.

Instead, the board next week will continue interviews with Jerome Stewart, former superintendent of Midlothian (Texas) Independent School District; Brenda Blackburn, superintendent of Montgomery County, Virginia, schools, who earlier this year tendered her resignation effective in October, according to the Roanoke Times; and Samuel DePaul, superintendent of Colquitt County (Georgia) schools.

“I feel real good about them,” board Chairman Jim Hayes said of the finalists chosen from 114 applicants. “They're very strong. They're all experienced. These are some people who have been through some wars. They've had some tough situations and we know that this district right now is a tough situation.”

Last week, the board interviewed six semifinalists recommended by B.W.P. & Associates search consultants including McGinley, who was the longest-serving superintendent in Charleston County's history.

Hayes said he had no comment regarding the candidates who weren't chosen.

“It was a difficult decision because they all came in with strengths,” he said.

McGinley resigned from the 48,000-student district in October with two years left on her contract in the wake of a scandal over racial accusations involving Academic Magnet High School's football team and Coach Bud Walpole. Once the highest-paid superintendent in the state, she received a severance package worth about $440,000 and remained a district employee through June 30.

In January, she opened a consulting business, Common Ground Leadership Project, that combined her experience in education and leadership by offering seminars, individual consultations and speaking engagements.

Berkeley is looking to replace Rodney Thompson, 48, who was indicted in April by the state grand jury on a misdemeanor ethics charge involving public corruption in connection with the district's 2012 Yes 4 Schools campaign.

Thompson, who was promoted to superintendent in February 2011, also left two years before his contract was up. He asked in September to be released effective July 31. The board accepted his request in November and voted to offer him a continuing teacher contract as a social studies instructor for the 2015-16 school year beginning Aug. 1, with a teacher's salary based on his years of service.

This is the second batch of finalists this year. An earlier search was scrapped and restarted after finalist Rocky Killion of West Lafayette, Indiana, withdrew his name.

“Even though we had six (candidates) in the spring, these six are very strong,” he said. “I feel like this pool was even better overall.”

Mike Turner, a retired assistant superintendent in the district, was rehired in June as interim superintendent. His contract runs through the end of September, and Hayes said he hopes to have the new superintendent in place by then.

The board has planned receptions for the candidates on Tuesday, and Aug. 5 and 6, to allow employees, community members and business leaders an opportunity to meet and hear from them.

Finalists will each spend a day touring district schools and the community and interacting with board members, employees and the public.

A reception for district employees in the District Office Board room at 229 East Main St., Moncks Corner, will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, and a reception for community members and business leaders will follow at 5:30 p.m.

“Community input is very important to us,” Hayes said. “This is the most important decision that a school board makes. We have appreciated the support and interest from the community during this process and look forward to announcing the next leader for our school district very soon.”

CLARIFICATION: This story may need clarification. In a July 6 letter to the Berkeley County School Board, Nancy McGinley asked to be considered for interim superintendent, “and, once you observe my leadership, consider making me the Superintendent.”

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.