Attempt to form group to assist in Terrebonne schools superintendent search struck down at committee meeting

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A Terrebonne Parish School Board (TPSB) member’s attempt to form a committee of district employees to establish search criteria and a timeline for the appointment of a new superintendent failed during a committee meeting yesterday. 


During an Education, Technology and Policy Committee meeting on Tuesday, board member Matthew Ford proposed a recommendation “that the board establish a committee, led by TPSD Personnel Director (Dr. Debra Yarbrough) and comprised of a selection of TPSD employees (Administrators, Faculty, & Support Staff), to work in conjunction with the Terrebonne Parish School Board for the sole purpose of assisting in facilitating a search for our next Superintendent of Schools for the Terrebonne Parish School District.”


In June, Superintendent Philip Martin announced he is retiring following the 2021-2022 school year after serving in the position for 14 years. 


Ford’s motion failed to receive a second from the other two Education, Technology and Policy Committee members: Debi Benoit and Dr. MayBelle Trahan. Benoit was absent, and Trahan didn’t see eye-to-eye with her colleague. “The job for searching and selecting a superintendent, according to [school board] policy C-3.3 — which is implementing the state statute 42:31, is giving that process exclusively to the members of the board,” she said. “I support  Ms. Yarbrough being an organizer of such a search, but she would have zero input in selecting people who are qualified applicants, et cetera. Therefore, I cannot provide a second for this recommendation.” 


Ford responded, “I appreciate you taking the time to find that policy, but I’m glad that you outlined that policy because the other recommendation I’ve been hearing is that you would hire an outside firm. You’re reading a policy that states it’s an exclusive duty and right of the board.” 


Trahan suggested that they could use a committee “as a whole” of the board for the process. 


Ford clarified after the meeting that the group would have given input on what they sought in a superintendent and develop a timetable for the search, not choose candidates. 


In addition to Yarbrough, Ford recommended Matthew Hodson, principal of H.L. Bourgeois High School; Casannah Moses, principal of Southdown Upper Elementary School; Melinda Rodrigue, principal of Bayou Black Elementary School; Marty Collins, a teacher at Terrebonne High School; and five to-be-determined members consisting of teachers, support staff and retired staff to serve on the committee.