The New Orleans College Prep governing board has parted ways with the Texas-based consultant who was leading their national search for a new CEO, and voted Thursday evening to hire a local consultant instead.
The board’s CEO-search committee had said in October that they hoped to be soliciting applications from potential candidates for the position by mid-month. Instead, committee chair Julia Walker reported back to the charter network’s full board on Thursday that the committee and Mollie Mitchell of K12 Search Group had mutually agreed to dissolve their contract.
The committee had initially thought Mitchell’s national experience would be helpful, but as the process moved forward, a familiarity with the New Orleans educational landscape became increasingly important, Walker said.
“She had less knowledge of the New Orleans market than we expected,” Walker said. “…We feel it is really important for candidates to have knowledge of the New Orleans community.”
Walker said the committee was also concerned that Mitchell was unfamiliar with the state Open Meetings laws, which govern all actions taken by the charter network’s board and its committees. All meetings of the CEO-search committtee must be open to the public, for example.
The committee reviewed three other proposals to lead the CEO-search effort, and decided to recommend consultant Bebe Ryan. Ryan proposes a three step process — identifying candidates, creating a selection process, and then leading the candidates and board through it — that would run approximately four months from November to February.
Ryan’s cost is hourly, and she estimates it will be between $16,000 and $25,000, depending on the amount of time College prep requires of her. The New Schools for New Orleans organization has pledged about $17,000 toward the effort, and Mitchell has agreed to return about $10,000 of her upfront fee, said chief financial officer Jonathan Tebeleff.
“We don’t think we have to come up with new money,” Walker said.
The board voted unanimously in favor of the committee’s recommendation of Ryan. It then proceeded into a closed-door executive session of interim CEO Natalie Kaharick, who has also been invited to seek the permanent position.
The executive session was still ongoing as of 5:30 p.m. Thursday. To read our live coverage of the meeting so far, see below.