The pool of candidates narrows in Royal Oak Schools superintendent search

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published March 27, 2017

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ROYAL OAK — Members of the Royal Oak Schools Board of Education decided last week that they would ask three candidates back for second superintendent interviews as opposed to two candidates as originally planned.

“It’s not common, but it certainly has happened,” said Thomas White, Michigan Association of School Boards executive search consultant. “It’s normally two, but if you are going to err, you always err on the side of bringing people back.”

White is heading the search to see who will replace current Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin, who is retiring at the end of June. White assisted board members with the first round of interviews March 21-22.

The three candidates asked back for second-round interviews on March 29 are Royal Oak High School Principal Mike Giromini; Berkley Schools Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Technology, Assessment and Grants Mary Beth Fitzpatrick; and Deputy Superintendent of Walled Lake Schools Christopher Delgado.

The three candidates were expected to tour the district during the afternoon before attending their interviews during the evening.

White said the evening would consist of a 10-minute presentation by each candidate followed by up to 20 questions asked by board members.

The interviews are scheduled to take place during a public, special Board of Education meeting, and those in attendance will have the opportunity to present questions for the candidates.

Board members made their second-round decisions March 22.

White instructed the board members to individually state the two candidates they would like to ask back.

Board members unanimously extended an invitation to Fitzpatrick, but were split on asking Giromini and Delgado back.

Delgado received four nods and Giromini received three; however, the majority of the board said they were conflicted choosing between the two interviewees.

“I have to say that I am really torn on this because, again, we had four fantastic candidates,” said school board President Deb Anderson. “I feel that we could hear more from the three and see more clearly who would be best for our district.”

School board member Gary Briggs said the second-round of interviews would bring out a different side of the candidates and would be more revealing.

“Our job is to pick the best person for this job, and so I don’t think that if it’s that close, I think that any other insight would be helpful for us, and so I have no problem bringing three candidates back,” he said.

Before the board extended an invitation to three of the four first-round candidates, a handful of residents spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Parent Erin Casey said she believes Giromini is a “phenomenal principal” and is “excellent in his role,” but did not feel he had the experience necessary to be a superintendent at this time.

Casey said she would have liked to have seen Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services for Farmington Public Schools Aaron Johnson asked back for the second round, along with Delgado, whom she praised.

“His significant experience both professionally and personally living and working in diverse communities I thought was really phenomenal and important,” she said. “And the knowledge and experience he brings to the table as the district moves forward, and the decision-making and implementation process for its cultural competency plan and engaging community stakeholders is valuable.”

Resident Brandon Kolo said he doesn’t envy the board’s decision.

“You have heard from four great candidates over the last two nights, and they all have different strengths,” he said. “As a member of the community, I hope that you choose the candidate who has shown the best leadership — proven track record of leadership and student achievement over their career.”

Giromini will interview at 6 p.m., followed by Delgado at 7:15 p.m. and Fitzpatrick at 8:30 p.m.

To learn more about what happened following the interviews, visit Facebook.com/RoyalOakReview.

The Royal Oak Schools Board of Education meets in the boardroom of the district administrative offices at 800 DeVillen Ave.

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