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JMCSS Superintendent Search Continues

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn. - Jackson-Madison County school board members are preparing for their second round of interviews in their search for a new leader of the Jackson Madison County School District.

Four of the original six candidates withdrew their names from the search after their first interview with the board last month. Two of those candidates cited racial issues within the district as their reason.

Now parents said they are anxious to know if one of the three finalists will be the right fit.

"I was shocked that all of them dropped out as quickly as they did," said parent Juan King.

David Clifft, who is the chairman for the school board, told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News the search has been a tough journey for many.

"I was hopeful in the beginning, but to be honest with you, I've been sort of frustrated with this one," said Clifft.

Search firm BWP said in its report to the board that this was an "unprecedented withdrawal" of candidates.

After interviewing two additional candidates that were brought in, the board narrowed the field to three.

The three candidates remaining are Verna Rufflin, who is an assistant superintendent from Tulsa, Oklahoma; Dr. Terence Patterson, who is an education program officer at a private company in Memphis; and Alan Coverstone, Executive Director within the Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Parents said they hope the position can be filled.

"Need to get someone in there permanent so we can get something going a little bit better than what we have," said King.

Clifft said the superintendent position is an important job within the county that oversees more than 12,000 students and 2,000 employees.

"This is probably, if not the most important, but certainly one of the most important jobs in this county," said Clifft.

Board members said they will not fill the position until they are confident that the right candidate has been found.

"It's very possible that one of these remaining candidates won't get six votes, I hate to say it, but it is possible we may end the search without a superintendent," said Clifft.

It's a system that parents said they believe needs new leadership and ideas.

"Looking at the current system that we have in place now, what kind of changes do they see them bringing to Jackson-Madison County Schools," said King.

The second round of interviews for superintendent of schools in Jackson-Madison County will begin Monday at Jackson City Hall. Officials said this will give the public an opportunity to ask the three remaining candidates questions directly.

Verna Rufflin will be the first to interviewed, followed by Terence Patterson on Tuesday and Alan Coverstone on Wednesday. All of the interviews will begin at 4 p.m. After each public interview and dinner, the board will begin their interview with the candidates, which is also public.

If the board is unable to find a superintendent that is right for this district, board members said that current superintendent Buddy White has indicated that he will help out in the position as needed.

The school board's regularly scheduled meeting for January will be held on Thursday.