Kearney chooses superintendent search firm tied to board president, interim superintendent

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KEARNEY, Mo. — Kearney Schools took a step toward finding a new superintendent Wednesday after its last left in controversy. But now there are questions about a potential conflict of interest in the search firm to hire that new superintendent.

The search firm the board selected, EGL, is no stranger to district leaders. The School Board President and Interim Superintendent are both part of that firm. But neither sees an issue with the association or selection process.

When Kearney Superintendent Dr. Matthew Miller resigned this summer months after being arrested on suspicion of DUI, Kearney had to find an interim superintendent.

They picked Dr. Todd White who agreed to a 5-month $75,000 contract throughout the rest of 2021. White is listed as the second leadership team member on EGL’s website. School Board President Mark Kelly is listed on EGL’s Board of Directors.

“Being on the School Board here wouldn’t that be a conflict of interest?” Julie Bell wondered.

With White’s contract expiring the school district put out a request for proposal for search firms to hire a new superintenfdent. FOX4 filed a sunshine request and found it received four responses. That was narrowed down to two, with one of those firms being EGL.

Kearney’s School Board met Tuesday afternoon to interview the firms. When FOX4 showed up we were told our cameras weren’t allowed inside. Wednesday the school district announced at that meeting the Board unanimously selected EGL the day prior.

Board President Mark Kelly said in a news release.“We’re very confident that EGL is the right team and are eager to work with them to find and recruit the right leader for Kearney School District.”

“I’m sure he is why wouldn’t he be? He’s on that Board just like our Superintendent who is the interim?” Bell said outside Wednesday’s meeting where the vote was scheduled to take place.

Not allowed to have our camera inside either public meeting we waited outside. White said he recused himself from the selection process of EGL. FOX4 asked Kelly if he also recused himself.

“I serve on a not for profit board, it is a non compensated position. I’m not paid anything. I receive nothing for it,” Kelly responded.

The school district said EGL will lead a series of focus group meetings in November with the community.

The board plans to interview superintendent candidates by early December and would be prepared to make a hiring recommendation later that month.

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