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School District names 3 finalists for superintendent

Updated Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010 | 5:08 p.m.

Sun Coverage

The Clark County School District's search firm recommended three finalists on Thursday for the district's next superintendent.

The search firm, McPherson and Jacobson, vetted and selected the finalists. They are:

• James W. Browder, superintendent of schools at the Lee County School District, in Florida, which includes Fort Myers. The firm said the district has 80,000 students and a 78 percent graduation rate. "He's a relationship builder," the firm said.

• Dwight D. Jones, the Colorado commissioner of education. The firm described him as "very achievement and assessment literate and motivated."

• Michael Hinojosa, a school superintendent for 14 years and superintendent in Dallas for the past five years. The firm said Dallas resembles Clark County with diverse ethnic groups and a sizable low-income population. "He has zeroed in on student success" and "he is known for team building," the firm said.

One notable absence from the finalist group was Jim Rogers, a wealthy businessman and former chancellor of the university system with a reputation for abrasiveness.

A supporter of Rogers was ejected from the meeting after he exceeded his time and denounced the school board.

Rogers had offered to serve in the position for free and to resign on short notice if the school board wanted someone else.

But in letters to Clark County School Board Vice President Carolyn Edwards, Rogers compared Edwards to Queen Elizabeth I.

"I have concluded that you believe you were elected to rule rather than to serve," he wrote to her Aug. 23.

Rogers also wrote that the search process was flawed. "I shudder at the thought of a milk toast (sic) being put in the job," Rogers wrote in an Aug. 30 letter.

Six board members voted in favor of approving the search firm's recommendations and one abstained. The president of the board, Terri Janison, abstained from the vote because her husband is employed by Rogers.

Thomas Jacobson, the head of the search firm, said only outsiders were chosen for the superintendent position because they were the only ones who met the board's criteria. As for Roger's offer to work for free, Jacobson said finances weren't part of the criteria.

Meanwhile, Jacquielynn Floyd, a columnist at the Dallas Morning News, raised questions about Hinojosa, who attracted early scrutiny and controversy.

"It's news, of course," she wrote, "but it can't be a big surprise that Michael Hinojosa is shopping for a new job ... But there's a gathering body of evidence that Hinojosa, who has piloted the unwieldy barge of the Dallas Independent School District for five years, is ready to get serious about a new gig."

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