FORT WORTH -- Trustees will begin interviewing six candidates today to lead the Fort Worth school district, including interim Superintendent Walter Dansby.
Officials declined to release specific details about the candidates, but search consultant David Thompson acknowledged that most are from Texas.
While some worried that a divided school board would deter highly qualified candidates from applying, Thompson and trustees said that was not the case. In all, the district had about 30 applicants from large urban districts and higher education.
"We're very pleased, and we think that the district had a very good group of individuals to look at," said Thompson, a Houston-based attorney who is leading the search. "If things continue at this pace, we'll have final interviews later this month."
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Officials hope to name a finalist by Feb. 13 who will take the superintendent post as early as March 1.
Some community members have expressed concerns at recent board meetings that Dansby has a lock on the position because some trustees have publicly said they want him to get the job. On Wednesday, the United Educators Association, which represents area school employees, expressed its support for Dansby to trustees.
But trustees said this week that they do not have a predetermined pick.
"When you have someone that ranks high, there should not be a reason to not consider what you know about them but you always have to remain open-minded to the opportunity for someone else," Trustee T.A. Sims said. "I don't think anyone has a lockdown on the position."
Trustee Carlos Vasquez, who has been one of the most vocal Dansby supporters, said he promised the search committee that he would keep an open mind on candidates.
"I will try to be as unbiased as I can and come in with a clean slate so that I can analyze the candidates fairly, but I am human," Vasquez said.
Trustee Norm Robbins was the only board member to vote against naming Dansby interim superintendent, saying he wanted someone with a more recent background in academics. Robbins also wouldn't speak about the specifics of the candidates but said the six being interviewed have all the attributes needed to lead a large urban district.
"We have good, qualified people and that's what we're hoping to get," Robbins said.