WCSD Trustees End Superintendent Search, Will Likely Appoint McNeill

Apr 1, 2020

The Washoe County School District Board of Trustees has voted to end its search for a new superintendent and will likely name Interim Superintendent Kristen McNeill to the district’s top position. 

In a six-to-one vote, board trustees decided to end the search for a new superintendent, citing McNeill’s performance since taking over the district. 

McNeill was named the interim superintendent last year after the board fired former Superintendent Traci Davis in July.

For Trustee Scott Kelly, the decision was easy, given the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“You don’t change the top leader during a crisis unless that leader has been failing,” Kelly said, “I think that all of us, and the community, have seen that she hasn’t been failing at all. She’s really stepped up.”

The board’s decision on Tuesday abruptly ended a monthslong national search, in which the district has already spent $15,000. It also cancels planned town halls which were scheduled to get the public’s input on the district’s next leader.

During Tuesday's meeting, trustees took public comments via email and entered them into the minutes, but did not read them aloud, making it difficult to determine whether their decision was popular among community members.

Some trustees discussed the option of pausing the search instead and waiting 30 days to see how the pandemic plays out. During a discussion on the motion, Vice President Angie Taylor expressed concerns about ending the search. She said rushing the process caused issues with previous superintendents.

“We didn’t put ourselves in a position where the candidate could gain community trust and we [couldn’t] get a lot of great input and feedback like we would have done in a traditional search," she said. "So in my opinion, that 30 days ... would be to gain more community input.”

Trustees are slated to vote on McNeill’s appointment on April 28, giving residents nearly four weeks to submit written public comment. However, it’s unclear whether those comments will be read aloud during the board’s virtual meeting or if they’ll simply be entered into the record.