Did Superintendent Davis have the legal authority to appoint Dr. Taylor to the North Region executive director position?

During the full-scale drama surrounding NAHS principal Dr. Howard Taylor’s resignation, subsequent promotion and then the BOE rejection of the promotion, a number of people have questioned whether the superintendent had the legal authority to appoint Dr. Taylor to the North Region executive director position in manner that he did.

The answer to the question appears to be a simple yes.

While I am not a lawyer, based on APS policies and the Charter of the Atlanta Independent School System, it is clear that he did have the authority to take the action that he did. There are several policies that come into play in making this assessment.

The first is Policy CG – Administrative Personnel, which reads as follows:

It is, therefore, board policy that the superintendent shall have the greatest flexibility allowed by law in selecting those persons who serve at the highest levels of the school administration in order that the superintendent might effectively manage and control the schools. The positions covered by this flexibility shall include all positions at the level of executive director and above. [emphasis added]

It is my understanding that the term “greatest flexibility allowed by law” extends the ability to select the individual without going through the normal HR process of advertising the position and conducting a competitive assessment of multiple candidates. In other words, the superintendent can select the individual of their choice for the position and not have to consider additional candidates. It is also important to note that this applies to positions at the executive director and above.

The next question is – does the Board of Education have to approve the selection of executive directors and above? Again, the answer is yes.

Under Policy BBAB – Board Duties, which states that in accordance with the charter of the Atlanta Independent School System, the Atlanta Board of Education shall:

Approve the superintendent’s recommendation to hire or dismiss school system staff, provided that such recommendations can be rejected by the board only with a three-fourths vote of the board. [emphasis added]

So the superintendent has great latitude in selecting his senior staff and the Board must approve the positions in advance of the appointment being made. However, the Board can only reject the superintendent’s recommendation if there is a supermajority of a three-fourths vote of the Board.

Additionally, past practices conform to my assessment above. When Deputy Superintendent Waldon and Associate Superintendent Smith were appointed to their position, their first day of employment with APS was on the date the Board of Education approved their appointments.

And while not specifically germane to the issues surrounding Dr. Taylor’s appointment, Policy CG – Administrative Personnel also provides guidance on the hiring policy for individuals below the executive director position. The policy reads,

The superintendent is authorized, without the prior approval of the board, to make limited-term appointments for a period not to exceed sixty (60) calendar days. Any such appointment may not continue for longer than sixty (60) calendar days without action by the board. Such appointments may be made either competitively or non-competitively to a vacant position or to a position temporarily vacated due to authorized leave. [emphasis added]

This policy allows for the superintendent to staff positions in advance of Board meetings and also allows the superintendent the flexibility to select candidates without going through the full HR process noted above. However, the appointments made by the superintendent are for an interim 60 day period and must be subsequently approved by the BOE – which the BOE does monthly when it approves the Personnel Gains and Losses Report at the monthly meeting.

[Follow me on Twitter @Financial_Decon]

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