Pinellas deputy school superintendent Julie Janssen has removed herself from the list of candidates to replace outgoing superintendent Clayton Wilcox.
But the move may open the way for Janssen to serve as interim superintendent while the board looks for a permanent replacement.
Her gesture removes the School Board from a potentially awkward situation. The board wants to conduct a national superintendent search but some members fear candidates would hesitate to apply if they perceived that the interim superintendent had an inside track on the job.
The problem: Janssen is one of the obvious choices to be interim superintendent but she also wanted to be the permanent replacement — until this week. With Janssen's blessing, Wilcox informed board members that she would not vie for the permanent job and would, if asked, serve as the interim.
She said Wednesday she did not want the district to miss a beat during the transition.
"In my book, she's a hero," said School Board member Jane Gallucci.
"That's really selfless of her," said board member Janet Clark.
The move does not guarantee Janssen the job, but most board members indicated she had a good chance.
Board chairwoman Nancy Bostock said it would put the district in "a very good position" by ensuring a smooth transition and a broad pool of candidates.
"I think she would make a good interim," board member Mary Brown said.
"I could vote for her," said board member Linda Lerner.
The board meets in a workshop today to discuss the search.
Janssen has been a deputy under Wilcox since 2006. She previously was principal at St. Petersburg and Countryside high schools. Wilcox is leaving in early June to work for Scholastic Corp.
Thomas C. Tobin can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8923.