The following state regulations apply to School-Based Decision Making (SBDM) Councils when they select a new principal for their school:
Personnel decisions at the school level shall be as follows:
1. From a list of qualified applicants submitted by the local superintendent, the principal at the participating school shall select personnel to fill vacancies, after consultation with the school council, consistent with paragraph (i)11. of this subsection. The superintendent shall provide additional applicants to the principal upon request when qualified applicants are available. The superintendent may forward to the school council the names of qualified applicants who have pending certification from the Education Professional Standards Board based on recent completion of preparation requirements, out-of-state preparation, or alternative routes to certification pursuant to KRS 161.028 and 161.048. Requests for transfer shall conform to any employer-employee bargained contract which is in effect;
2. a. i. If the vacancy to be filled is the position of principal, the outgoing principal shall not serve on the council during the principal selection process. The superintendent or the superintendent's designee shall serve as the chair of the council for the purpose of the hiring process and shall have voting rights during the selection process.
ii. Except as provided in subdivision b. of this subparagraph, the council shall have access to the applications of all persons certified for the position. The principal shall be elected on a majority vote of the membership of the council. No principal who has been previously removed from a position in the district for cause may be considered for appointment as principal. The school council shall receive training in recruitment and interviewing techniques prior to carrying out the process of selecting a principal. The council shall select the trainer to deliver the training;
b. An alternative principal selection process may be used by the school council as follows:
i. Prior to a meeting called to select a principal, all school council members shall receive informational materials regarding Kentucky open records and open meetings laws and sign a nondisclosure agreement forbidding the sharing of information shared and discussions held in the closed session;
ii. The superintendent shall convene the school council and move into closed session as provided in KRS 61.810(1)(f) to confidentially recommend a candidate;
iii. The council shall have the option to interview the recommended candidate while in closed session; and
iv. After any discussion, at the conclusion of the closed session, the council shall decide, in a public meeting by majority vote of the membership of the council, whether to accept or reject the recommended principal candidate;
c. If the recommended candidate is selected, and the recommended candidate accepts the offer, the name of the candidate shall be made public during the next meeting in open session;
d. i. If the recommended candidate is not accepted by the school council under subdivision b. of this subparagraph, then the process set forth in subdivision a. of this subparagraph shall apply.
ii. The confidentially recommended candidate's name and the discussions of the closed session shall remain confidential under KRS 61.810(1)(f), and any documents used or generated during the closed meeting shall not be subject to an open records request as provided in KRS 61.878(1)(i) and (j).
iii. A recommended candidate who believes a violation of this subdivision has occurred may file a written complaint with the Kentucky Board of Education.
iv. A school council member who is found to have disclosed confidential information regarding the proceeding of the closed session shall be subject to removal from the school council by the Kentucky Board of Education under subsection (9)(e) of this section;
JCPS provides training that guides SBDM Councils through the selection process. The training helps council members understand their role, determine important characteristics for the principal, and prepare to interview candidates.
It is extremely important for councils to have a well-drafted principal selection policy in place. Councils will find that developing and adopting a policy that has specific, clear guidelines are the keys to establishing a smooth selection process.
Some of the most common errors during the principal selection process are violations in open meetings and open records laws. SBDM Council meetings are open meetings; however, councils may go into closed session to review written material, to conduct interviews, and to discuss candidates. The decision to recommend a principal candidate to the superintendent must be made in open session. If a council is not convening at its regularly scheduled meeting, the meeting is considered a special meeting. Special meetings require an established agenda and written notice to all council members and to the media 24 hours in advance.
To comply with open record laws, councils must take time to review meeting minutes and make sure they accurately reflect action taken. Principal selection is one of the most important decisions a council makes. Beginning the process by following correct procedures will reap positive results. For more information on principal selection training, contact JCPS Administrative Recruitment and Development at (502) 485-3114 or Dr. Shawna Stenton, SBDM specialist, at (502) 485-3056.