Nashville school officials have named interim superintendent Adrienne Battle as the permanent director of schools, calling off a national search.
The decision came at a specially called meeting this morning. The move came after the board members interviewed only one of five candidates before having the search disrupted by last week’s tornadoes. They were supposed to resume interviews again this week but called those off after the state confirmed over a dozen coronavirus cases.
Board members say the search could have taken months.
“These are extraordinary circumstances,” school board member Gini Pupo-Walker said, “but I also believe that we are doing what I think is necessary and what I think the city is expecting us to do.”
Battle is a former Nashville teacher and administrator. She was named interim superintendent last spring following the resignation of Shawn Joseph after less than three years on the job.
Battle was considered a top candidate to take the superintendent’s job on a permanent basis and recently received praise from some parents and teachers for her response to last week’s storm. The decision also came a day after Battle announced schools would close for spring break two days early amid an outbreak of the coronavirus in Middle Tennessee.
Pupo-Walker said the district made a serious effort to complete the search process, but are now operating in a different environment.
“We have the right leader right here with us, and I believe her vision, her strategic thinking and her ability to lead others will transform this district,” Pupo-Walker said.
The entire board voted for Battle, except for board member Jill Speering who was not in attendance. But the decision was not made without some concern about the process. Last year, the board received backlash for making Battle the interim director without public input.
“We need as a board to be aware and guard against that we might be setting ourselves up to repeat some history,” said board member Rachael Anne Elrod.