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Do not give interim superintendent unfair edge

Some people in the community were surprised that interim school Superintendent Don Brown was not selected as one of the finalists to be interviewed by the Hernando County School Board for the permanent job. Brown, after all, has done a yeoman's job of filling the post since Harold Winkler left two months ago to take a job in North Carolina.

It is even understandable that Brown and his supporters might be disappointed, or even perturbed, he did not make the short list of finalists compiled by the citizens advisory committee that screened the applicants.

But there is no indication it was a deliberate slight against Brown on the part of the committee, or that any collusion existed to keep him from having a fair shot at the job. Indeed, it would have been nearly impossible for any such scheme to develop because of the broad-based nature of the citizens group.

For that reason, and because Brown's qualifications are not as diverse as those of many of the applicants, it would be unwise for the School Board to overrule the committee's recommendation and grant Brown an interview.

It would have been perfectly reasonable for the School Board to have decided before the conclusion of the citizens committee's work to specify that all applicants from Hernando County would be interviewed. In fact, the board members were reminded by Chairman Jim Malcolm before the selection committee finished its work that they might want to consider such a stipulation for both in-house candidates, Brown and Assistant Superintendent Wendy Tellone.

But when the board members did not act on that suggestion, they tacitly indicated they would abide by the committee's recommendations. For any of the School Board members to now advocate interviewing Brown and disregard the advice of the committee is not fair to other candidates who also did not make the final list but who posted higher scores than Brown among the citizens' panel members.

The School Board will meet Friday to compile the final list of applicants who will be granted personal interviews for the job of superintendent. Although it is unfortunate Brown is not among those who received the committee's highest endorsement, it is important that the School Board stick to its plan. To do otherwise would taint the selection process and invite unnecessary criticism of a district that has had more than its share in recent years.

Brown is to be thanked for his interim service. Without a doubt, he deserves some special recognition by the board for his professional effort to keep the district running smoothly while it was without a leader. But granting him an unfair advantage in this job competition should not be Brown's reward.