Althea Greene, School Board Chair

By Tonyaa Weathersbee

MEMPHIS, TN — A woman wearing glasses speaks while gesturing with her hands in front of a door covered in college pendant flags

The Memphis-Shelby County School Board voted unanimously to choose the firm Hazard, Young, Attea, and Associates to conduct a national search for its next superintendent. Board Chair Althea Greene said she was not aware of controversies surrounding the firm.

The Memphis-Shelby County School Board took a major step in its pursuit of a new leader for Tennessee’s largest school district, voting unanimously to choose the firm Hazard, Young, Attea, and Associates to conduct a national search.

HYA, of Schaumburg, Illinois, was among four firms that applied for the job. Board Chair Althea Greene; the district’s general counsel and chief legal officer, Kenneth Walker; and its chief of human resources, Quintin Robinson, recommended HYA after vetting all four firms.

The four applicants “are all excellent firms, all who have represented large urban districts and identified superintendents who are working throughout the country now,” board member Kevin Woods said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Hazard Young is a reputable firm, and I stand behind the decision.”

But before the board vote, a number of speakers expressed concerns that the process of selecting the firm had not been transparent enough, and that members of the public should have had the opportunity to examine how the firm was ultimately selected. 

After the meeting, Greene said it was up to the board, not the advisory committee or the public, to make the choice. 

“We followed the procurement process. We provided that information to board members,” she said, responding to a question from The Commercial Appeal about public input on the search firm selection. “Now we will be able to provide it to, through open records, to anybody who requests that information.” 

“But it was not something that we needed to publicly have a conversation about before this board voted on it and decided that they agreed with the search firm,” she said.

The board will pay the firm a base consulting fee of $38,000, according to the board’s agreement with the firm, plus some additional costs.

HYA has more than 30 years of experience and has conducted superintendent searches for large urban school districts such as Atlanta’s and Denver’s in recent years. In some cases, though, it has been accused of not properly vetting candidates.