JCPS Board Narrows List Of Superintendent Candidates To Seven

Johnston County Public School Board Chairman Todd Sutton said Tuesday he is confident a new superintendent can be hired and in place by July 1st.   Thirty-one candidates applied for the vacancy created by the August 2019 retirement of Dr. Ross Renfrow who served as superintendent for 41 months.

“We narrowed our search down to 7 candidates for interviews,” Sutton said. “These interviews will be held on April 14, April 15 and April 21, April 22. We will be doing these on a virtual platform due to the stay at home order that is currently in place.”

School Board Candidate Rick Mercier of Clayton said Tuesday the decision to hire a new superintendent should be made after the November 2020 elections when four seats on the board are up for election.  And the hiring process needs to be more transparent.

“We need to be paying close attention to this process and demand more transparency.  I have said consistently that I don’t think the current school board should get to make this decision, and I have also said I have concerns about the caliber of candidates we’ll get at this time with this board doing the hiring. Nevertheless, they’re moving forward with the hiring process, so we have to think about what we want in a superintendent and press for it.”

“At the very least, the next superintendent must come from outside the school system. The good-old-boy (and gal) cronyism inside JCPS has to end. The next superintendent also should have ample experience running a fast-growing school system. In addition, s/he should have a strong track record of sound fiscal management; of transparent and honest leadership; of success at relationship building; and of being committed to fairness and equity,” Mr. Mercier said.

“I believe that we must have a chance to meet the final three superintendent candidates (it can be done virtually). It’s our school system, not theirs.” If you agree, please contact the current school board members and let them know you want meaningful public engagement during these final steps of the hiring process. You can find board members’ contact information at

Former school board candidate Mark Lane of Smithfield said Tuesday that hiring a new superintendent now is a mistake.  “First of all this is a mistake to hire a superintendent right now.  My reason for saying that is what superintendent, who is doing a great job where he is would want to leave and come into this hornet’s nest? The hiring should wait until everything has calmed down and the dark cloud hovering over the school board has cleared! I’ve said during my campaign and also will say it now …. this HAS to be a home run hire. We don’t need to settle for anything less.  (Interim Superintendent Dr.) Ben Williams is very capable of running the system until the all clear signal has been given. This my friends is just another example of reckless behavior by SOME members on the school board.”