Photo by Roy Williams
Dr. Kathy L. Murphy
Dr. Kathy L. Murphy
Members of the Hoover Board of Education received a rousing hand-clap of praise during the April 30 meeting at the urging of board attorney Donald Sweeney for their hard work during search for a new city schools superintendent.
In an interview today, May 1, Board President Donna Frazier and Vice-president Derrick Murphy shared some of the behind-the-scenes sacrifices that were made during the six-month search that resulted in the hiring of Dr. Kathy Murphy as new superintendent effective June 1.
“This has been quite a journey,” Frazier said. “After serving 10 years, on 10 different boards, this has been the most dedicated school board I’ve ever served on. But we as a board needed so bad to get this search right. This was a huge decision.”
Since former superintendent Dr. Andy Craig announced he was leaving Hoover for a job with the Alabama Board of Education, Frazier said the five Hoover school board members - all non-paid who serve for the good of Hoover school children- sacrificed personal time with their jobs and families to put in the hours necessary to find the right candidate.
Some board members took personal vacation time to conduct the interviews with the four finalists.
Derrick Murphy, in his fifth year on the Hoover school board, concurred with Frazier, adding that the board members were determined to “make whatever sacrifices it took” to make the right choice.
“Donna was a superb leader throughout this search. This was the most important decision I’ve ever made on the school board, one that impacts the future of Hoover City Schools for many years to come,” said Murphy, who along with his wife have a 17-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter in the city school system along with a 2-year-old.
Both Frazier and Murphy said all four finalists would have been capable of leading Hoover City Schools. But they added Murphy, currently superintendent of Monroe County set herself apart during her April 27 interview from the other three finalists: Dr. Vic Wilson, superintendent of Hartselle, Ala. City Schools, Dr. Charles Ledbetter, superintendent of Dublin, Ga. city schools and Dr. Chris Marczak, assistant superintendent of Oak Ridge, Tenn. city schools.
Frazier said the caliber of the finalists was evident in that three of the four - Ledbetter, Murphy and Marczak - were also candidates for other school superintendent jobs. Both Ledbetter and Murphy were interviewed this week by Dothan city schools, she said.
“I would have been comfortable with all of them, but Dr. Murphy really stood out,” Frazier said.
Dr. Murphy stood out with how she “did her homework” in researching Hoover city schools and dictating her vision, Murphy said.
“She knew things about Hoover city schools you don’t see in the paper, and put forth a bold vision on how to make us even stronger as a system,” Murphy said. “She presented herself as someone who is engaged in city schools and won’t just sit behind a desk.”
Frazier said Wilson, who previously served as principal at Mountain Brook and Homewood high schools prior to taking the Hartselle superintendent job, also had strong support, especially since he lived in Hoover for 16 years. She said Wilson’s call withdrawing from the race just minutes prior the the April 30 meeting caught her off guard.
“I was sitting in my car trying to get my thoughts together, which is kind of unusual for me,” Frazier recalled. "I got a call from a 256 number that I didn’t recognize. It was Dr. Wilson, telling me he needed to withdraw his name.”
Frazier said Wilson, who had applied at the last minute, told her that since it became known he was a finalist, the Hartselle school board and citizens rallied behind him, urging him to stay.
“He told me he felt his family was not all in, and had some things still left to be accomplished in Hartselle,” Frazier said. “I told him I respected his decision.”
After talking to the board attorney, Frazier broke the news before the April 30 vote.
“The other board members found out at the same time the public did,” she said.