Nashville Mayor David Briley says he’s going to play a heavier role in the search for a new director of public schools, telling reporters at a press conference today that he intends to use the power of the purse to give his office more say over how the school board operates.
State law gives the school board authority to determine how the superintendent position is filled. But Briley says he intends to change that, because the board — which has had a great deal of public infighting — needs help coming together.
“Leadership also means working to build consensus, if not unanimous approval. And it means being willing to accept when you’ve been on the losing side, and being willing to move on, so that all sides can move forward together for the sake of bigger goals,” said Briley. “We haven’t seen enough of that from our elected school board members.”
In this year’s budget, he says he plans to include a memorandum of understanding between the city and the school board, where funding for the district could be at stake.
“And it will demand of the Board of Education that they stop violating the Open Meetings Act, that they follow their own policies, and that we get more control over the operations and finance of the school board,” said Briley.
Briley’s announcement comes after the current director of schools, Shawn Joseph, said earlier this week that he will not seek a contract extension. The superintendent has sparred with board members over his handling of sexual harassment claims, purchasing contracts and his hiring practices.
But many city leaders have said that Joseph, who is black, is being pushed out in part due to his race. Briley expressed his support for Joseph, who attended the press conference following a tour of Napier Elementary School, and says he intends to address racial inequity within the district, a stated goal of Joseph.