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Rock Hill moves forward with superintendent search

Rock Hill schools will have new leadership for the first time in more than two decades this fall, but the out-going superintendent isn’t talking about how he sees the district’s future unfolding.

The Rock Hill Board of Education met in a closed-door, special session for nearly three hours Tuesday to talk about the search process to replace embattled Superintendent Lloyd Evans.

The board voted 4-1 in January not to reemploy Evans when his contract expires July 31. Board members Wanda Jenkins, Paul R. Johnson, Lavetta Sites and Dennie Hankins voted for the motion and board member Keith Roth cast the dissenting vote.

At that time, board president Hankins said, “We just made a decision as the board of education (not to re-employ) the superintendent because we feel it is in the best interest of the school district.”

In Tuesday’s meeting, the board voted to formally post the superintendent vacancy, advertise the position in several local newspapers and education trade publications and set up a post office box for applications.

Applications will be accepted through the end of May with the position beginning duties on Aug. 1.

Roth voted to post the position but was the lone dissenting vote on the other measures.

Roth said he had concerns about such an expensive advertising campaign, which included four consecutive weekly ads in at least six publications, at a time when the district needs to be cutting costs.

Hankins reiterated that the decision to seek a new superintendent was about moving the district forward and focusing on providing the best education possible.

“We are just following the standard operating procedures. We have to advertise for a new superintendent,” Hankins said. “The board clearly, in a 4-1 decision several meetings ago, felt that we needed to steer the district in a new direction.”

Hankins said the board has identified key criteria and objectives that they would like to see in the district’s next superintendent but declined to elaborate because these items were discussed in the executive session.

Evans declined several requests to talk about the board’s decision not to keep him at the helm of the district. The superintendent cited past disagreements with The Tribune and a lack of confidence he would be accurately quoted as the reasons for his silence.

Evans and various incarnations of the district’s school board have had a rocky history.

In late 2003, a lame-duck school board gave Evans a new, five-year contract just days after Sites and Jenkins, who were not considered to be Evans supporters, won seats on the board in the November election.

Shortly after the new board members were seated in 2004, Sites, Jenkins and Johnson opted to non-renew Evans’ new contract. Evans sued them in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court contending that his contract was valid. Evans won the case against the board and returned to his position.

A grass-roots organization known as Citizens Against Poor Spending later successfully sued to remove Sites, Jenkins and Johnson from the board — only the second time such a lawsuit has even been successful in Ohio — for malfeasance of office.

However, Jenkins was re-elected to the board only weeks after being removed in the lawsuit. Johnson and Sites later won their seats back through subsequent elections.

Evans and the Rock Hill District have also been named as defendants in several lawsuits within the district. Some were settled out of court, dismissed or remain unresolved.

In other business, the board voted 4-1 to change the April meeting to 1 p.m. April 11 at the high school. Hankins said the change was needed to ensure all board members could attend. Roth voted against it, citing the fact that an afternoon meeting on Easter weekend may hinder the ability of the public or others to attend.