Lexington-Richland 5 has identified the top three contenders for the job of permanent superintendent, including the current interim superintendent.
Akil Ross, who has overseen operations in the Chapin-Irmo area school district since July, is seen as a favorite for the permanent job.
Two other candidates with administrative experience in school district administration are also finalists for the job. Sam Whack is the deputy superintendent of administration and instruction for the Jasper County School District. Ronald larussi is the superintendent of Marion City Schools in Marion, Ohio.
State law requires public agencies to name at least three finalists for such a position.
Members of the Lexington-Richland 5 school board met behind closed doors for more than four hours Monday to interview candidates for the job of the district’s permanent top administrator, without taking any action. The school board voted last month to proceed with interviews of three of the five applicants for the superintendent job.
Ross is seen as a strong contender for the full-time job after he was hired last summer. Ross is an education consultant and former district administrator who was named the national principal of the year during his time at Chapin High School.
Some board members expressed concerns about the small number of applicants who applied for the job. That’s been credited to Ross’ strong position in the running.
Ross was hired as superintendent this summer after the controversial resignation of former Superintendent Christina Melton. Melton had been named South Carolina’s superintendent of the year before she suddenly quit in June after an often tense relationship with the majority of school board members over the district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, from how quickly to return to in-person instruction to whether to require masks in school.
The hiring of Ross on an interim basis caused some controversy because his contract is structured as a deal between Lexington-Richland 5 and his consulting firm, HeartEd LLC. That sparked a complaint to the district’s accrediting agency Cognia by a group of former superintendents and school board chairmen, which itself led to a lawsuit from the district against one of the former officials behind the complaint.
Cognia has said it does not plan to take action over the former superintendent’s complaint.
This story will be updated.