Roberts hired out of state
June 30, 2010 - As Clarkston begins its search for a new superintendent, a suburban Chicago school district finished their own – they hired retiring Clarkston Superintendent Al Roberts.
Consultants Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA) assisted in Oak Park Elementary School District 97's search, just outside Chicago, with Roberts among its top five recommendations.
Roberts contracted with HYA this past September for $18,500 to assist with Clarkston's search for a new deputy superintendent and human resources director.
Roberts said this is not a case of trading favors – such action would jeopardize the consultants' image and business.
"HYA is a national search firm that is widely respected and known for its integrity – such a firm does not do favors for any superintendent," Roberts said in an email, June 27.
Different individuals working with HYA conducted Clarkston and Oak Park's searches, he said..
"This firm has a large number of consultants," he said.
As with Clarkston's search, the firm shared information about all candidates with the school board,which decided who to interview and then hire, Roberts said.
"At the time we were looking for a deputy superintendent and HR director, I had planned to remain in the district for three or four more years, as indicated in my contract," he said.
"I made the decision to take advantage ofthe state retirement incentive when I visited the Office of Retirement Services on the Friday before Memorial Day, May 28. So, the thought that I would be moving was not a consideration during the time the Clarkston search was being conducted."
HYA, based in Glenview, Ill., also a suburb of Chicago, interviewed candidates for the Clarkston positions this past January, and the positions were filled in April.
They screened and interviewed 46 candidates from 15 states in the Oak Park search, June 4-6, and recommended five semifinalists. The school board interviewed the top five, June 9-11, resulting in two finalists. A 12-member stakeholder group including educators and community members interviewed the two of them, June 12, according to school board reports.
Roberts did not inform Clarkston Board of Education of his job-search progress, said board Vice President Susan Boatman.
"A reporter that covers Oak Park school districts called me – he informed me that Dr. Roberts was being hired," Boatman said in a June 25 email. "The reporter told me that Dr. Roberts was recruited for the job, but I was not aware that HYA was doing the recruiting – I cannot explain what relationship Dr. Roberts has with HYA."
Board President Steve Hyer said the two job searches seem completely different.
"The consultants that worked on the Clarkston placements had nothing to do with the Oak Park placements – two different consultant groups," Hyer said in an email, June 28. "There are many search firms out there and it just happens that HYA is based in Illinois and was selected by the Oak Park board."
Roberts' contract with District 97 is for three years with a base salary of $195,000, according to an Oak Park press release. He starts on July 1.
Clarkston Board of Education considered HYA to help with its superintendent search, but voted, June 14, to hire Michigan Association of School Boards.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.