By a 4-3 margin, the Des Moines School Board voted to offer interim superintendent Tom Ahart a two year, $260,000 annual contract. But the decision was marred with controversy. Some parents spoke out about the process, and expressed concern that the decision was made behind closed doors in violation of state law.
"We actually believe that tonight was predetermined weeks if not months ago." said parent Brian Jack, "As a result we do not believe that this was a due and fair process for the candidates, school, or community. We also believe the public forums were a farce."
Parent Kathy Massier agreed. "Please use your community's disappointment as a wake up call to work with the community, not behind closed doors, or worse... in all out battle against us as you did in closing gateway." Massier told board members, "Talk to and listen to your customers. Do not refuse to discuss issues with us."
Board member Joe Jongewaard agreed, the board made it's decision long before a national search was conducted. "No other candidate, no matter how qualified or experienced had any chance of getting this job." Jongewaard said, "Indeed if the Lebron James of superintendents applied for this position I believe the majority of our board would have reached the same decision."
Board president Dick Murphy insisted the decision was made Tuesday night, in public, even though he announced the decision Friday. "Because that's what we're doing now. Voting on it in public" Murphy insisted, "And I think you're learning where people stand on it."
You can view Ahart's full contract here.