Superintendent finalist drops out

Dr. Samantha Ingram (Source - Fairfield Co. Schools' website)
Dr. Samantha Ingram (Source - Fairfield Co. Schools' website)

Posted by: Mario Hendricks - bio | email
Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - There's been another setback in the search for Montgomery's next school superintendent. The Montgomery County School Board confirmed Monday morning that Dr. Samantha Ingram, one of two remaining finalists, dropped out of the race.

Ingram, who is the Superintendent of Fairfield County School in South Carolina emailed the following statement to Montgomery School Board President Beverly Ross:

Dear Ms. Ross,
Based on the current and most recent challenges facing Montgomery Public Schools and my own personal challenges at this time, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy for consideration as your superintendent.
I appreciate having the opportunity to interview for this position, and I am flattered to have been one of your finalists. I wish you and the Montgomery Public Schools much success as you move forward with this process.

While Ingram's note didn't give a specific reason for her withdrawal, there are some officials who believe they know the reason. "South Carolina would have been much more stressful just based on the things that we had heard and found out on our own," said Liz Hill, who heads the Montgomery Principals' Association. "...Controversy seems to follow her wherever she went."

One of those controversies was an ethics investigation that started when Ingram worked in Mobile. According to the Mobile district attorney the investigation ended when Ingram left for South Carolina - one reason Hill thinks the board should start over with a fresh search. "I don't think we should take it as sort of a default and take the candidate that's left standing so to speak," Hill explained. "I think perhaps we should start over and look at the candidates we have or even add more to that pool of, I believe it was 49."

Ingram's decision to drop out of the race leaves just one candidate in the running, Barbara Thompson of Madison, Wisconsin. Hill joined four board members from Montgomery Public Schools who traveled to Thompson's home state last week for an on-site visit. (Read Sally Pitt's blog from the trip.)

Just because Thompson is the only candidate remaining does not necessarily guarantee her the job. For now the school board members aren't talking about what's next other than to say the process is on-going. There are several options available to the board. They can restart the process from the beginning or vote on the remaining candidate.

As for Hill, she says she knows what the principals would want. "They would like to see them [the board] wait."

The selection of a new school leader has become a highly emotional and racially divided issue. Some school board members say they're anxious because they want to see a new superintendent in place when school started back on August 11.

The school board will hold a special meeting Wednesday at 4pm to discuss the search. WSFA 12 News will be at that meeting.

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