Bearden’s job seeking raises questions
It has been established that Fayette County School System Superintendent Jeff Bearden is one of two finalists for the superintendent’s job with the Floyd County School System.
But when it came to the Sept. 19 executive session meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education that resulted in the board’s mutual termination agreement with Bearden, were all the board members aware of the application to Floyd County that Bearden had submitted two weeks earlier? The answer is that some were and some were not.
It was on Sept. 19 that Bearden and the Fayette school board entered into a mutual termination agreement that cited Dec. 31 as his last day of employment.
But according to documents on the Floyd County School System website, Bearden completed and submitted an application and résumé for the superintendent’s job on Sept. 4, a full two weeks before he and the Fayette school board agreed to the mutual termination. Bearden’s application was date-stamped by the Floyd County School System on Sept. 6.
So did anyone on the school board know on Sept. 19 that Bearden had completed his application for Floyd County back on Sept. 4?
According to Bearden’s application, both Fayette school board Chairman Leonard Presberg and Vice-Chairman Terri Smith knew.
On his Floyd County application Bearden said Presberg and Smith were aware of his application submittal. And on his résumé, Bearden listed Presberg, Smith, school board member Janet Smola and school system attorney Phillip Hartley as references.
But what about the other school board members? Did all on the Fayette school board know that Bearden had submitted an application in Floyd County? Board members Marion Key and Bob Todd indicated that they were not aware of the application.
Contacted Tuesday, Presberg was asked if it was his responsibility as board chair to inform the entire board during the Sept. 19 executive session that Bearden had made application for the superintendent’s job in Floyd County.
Presberg’s response was one that essentially failed to answer the question. He said that while he cannot address the specifics of what was said in the meeting, he did say it is his job as chairman “to do what is best for the school system.”
Though it had nothing to do with the question put to him, Presberg also noted that he was under the assumption that everyone on the board would understand that Bearden would be looking for another job.
School system attorney Hartley’s office was contacted Monday to get clarification on whether he gave Bearden permission to list him as a reference. He did not return the call prior to press time.
Hartley was going to be asked whether a school system attorney should insure that all board members were notified of the superintendent’s application to Floyd County. Hartley was present at the Sept. 19 meeting.
Bearden is one of two finalists in the search to fill the superintendent’s position in Rome. The Floyd County Board of Education is is expected to announce the name of the new superintendent on Nov. 5.
The terms of the mutual termination agreement with the Fayette BoE called for Bearden to receive a year’s salary, $153,000, and the funds to pay for health insurance costs for one year.
As for the surprise announcement at the Sept. 19 meeting of the Fayette school board, there has been no mention of the circumstances of the 4-1 decision in which Presberg was opposed.
“(Bearden and all members of the school board) agree not to make any oral or written communication to any person or entity that disparages, is intended to damage the reputation, or has the effect of damaging the reputation of another party. No statements will be made by any party to this agreement, including the individual members of the Board of Education, contrary to the terms of this agreement or the joint press release issued by the parties. All parties specifically agree that as of the date of the agreement, they are aware of no evidence which would required a report to any federal, state or private regulatory agency with regard to the conduct of the other,” the mutual termination agreement said.