An online petition protesting the hiring process for a new superintendent for Hartselle City Schools has over 400 signatures.

Parents and community members said the process had not included public input, and they do not feel all of the qualified candidates have been thoroughly considered. Furthermore, they believe the rushed process could lead to a superintendent with extreme social views because they have not heard questions answered publicly.

The Hartselle City Board of Education has recommended hiring candidate Dr. Brian Clayton, who has been an educator for nearly 30 years.

"The chosen candidate is from a school system in another county, completed only one round of interview questions, and was selected instead of other well-qualified candidates with established roots in our community," the petition, started by Bruce Wilhite, stated.

The petition shows concern about how challenges such as COVID would be handled. Parents who signed the document believe in-person instruction should be a priority for the next superintendent.

"As stakeholders, we hope and pray there is nothing on the horizon comparable to COVID or the societal events of 2020," the petition states. "However, there should be no question where our new superintendent stands on the following issues:

  • In-person instruction vs. remote learning

  • Student mask mandates

  • The role and inclusion of ideological curricula in our school system

The undersigned parents, citizens, and stakeholders request that the Hartselle City Schools Board of Education immediately halt contract negotiations and re-interview qualified candidates to address the above topics."

Parents say they want to hear from all six candidates about their positions on COVID protocols and social issues.

"I believe the teachers and parents should have the time to ask questions and understand what type of superintendent they are getting," Stephanie DeLucenay said about the process. "We elected a school board to represent us, therefore, the school board should be fully transparent, not rush the process to quash our voice, and listen to our views on the type of superintendent we feel is the best candidate for our children, our future!"

"I don't believe this is the right person for the job," said resident Chris Davis. "Me [and] my former wife went to Hartselle. When we married, we lived in the Decatur. When we had children, we moved to Hartselle just for the school system. I believe this person will destroy Hartselle City Schools and not represent the Hartselle way of life."

Those with concerns ask for more time and public comment before a contract is offered.

Clayton, currently the principal at James Clemens High School, has been vocal about his stance on education and that he will follow Alabama curriculum. Board members who voted for him said he was the most qualified candidate, and they believed he would represent the community well.

Clayton graduated from the University of Alabama (UA) in 1996, but continued his educational training at the school until he earned his doctorate from UA in 2005. He was named Principal of the Year in 2018.

The BOE vote recommending Clayton was a 3-2 vote, but a contract has not been signed. The next board meeting will be on December 13.

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