Polk schools start process to find new superintendent

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Polk County school board members met for the first time with the interim superintendent, Jacqueline Byrd.  Kathryn Leroy stepped down from the superintendent post earlier this month after an investigation into whether she sexually harassed a subordinate.

LeRoy was cleared of any illegal wrongdoing by a firm hired to investigate complaints, but there remained questions about the way she ran the school system and the way she acted.

The board is now tasked with finding a replacement.

“I would be in favor of a national search because I think that is the right thing to do, but I would want anyone within our organization to feel comfortable to apply because I feel we have some good folks right here in the district,” board member Lori Cunningham said.

A search firm hired to find a superintendent said the process could last six to eight months. The interim will remain in place until then.

Board member Hunt Berryman said the district is ready to move forward. “The distraction was a serious distraction, but we need to get rid of the drama and go back to focusing on what’s best for the children,” Berryman said.

The associate superintendent who lodged the complaint against LeRoy agrees. “I think Mrs. Byrd (formerly the assistant superintendent) is going to do a great job and I am looking forward to working with her to support the students and teachers in the district,” Greg Rivers said.

The head of the Polk Education Association, the teachers’ union, wants to have a better working relationship with the new superintendent.

“We are hoping they will find a superintendent that first of all understands collective bargaining, understands the fact that employees have rights, understands that in order to move a district forward you need many elements to work together,” association president Marianne Capoziello.

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