E-mails raise questions about transparency of Portage Superintendent search

May 13, 2013

Portage Central High School - file photo
Credit WMUK

Portage School Board members identified their preferred candidate for superintendent and discussed contract details before naming Greg Gray the sole finalist. MLive Kalamazoo has examined e-mails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act

Gray has since dropped out of consideration for the job, saying he will stay in Brighton where he is that district's Superintendent.

MLive Kalamazoo Education Reporter Julie Mack says based on her review of the e-mails and talking with lawyers who specialize in the Open Meetings Act there were a couple of "red flags." Mack says board members talked with Gray before his interview and reduced the pool of candidates in closed session. 

The e-mails also show the search consultant had raised concerns about whether the board was being transparent enough in its search process. Mack says it's not clear why School Board President Bo Snyder rejected advice to conduct more of the deiberations in public. 

The e-mails also reveal that Gray himself said he would not be part of a search if he had to go up against other candidates. Mack says that's probably where the Portage School Board "got into trouble." She says the naming of one finalist raised a lot of questions. She says it's part of the reason that MLive sought the e-mails under the Freedom of Information Act. 

Portage interim Superintendent Rob Olson has issued a statement saying that board members will not contact candidates or potential candidates before they are interviewed in open session. Mack says the Portage Board has said it wants to conduct a "targeted search." But she says there are questions about whether that is an attempt to skirt the law.

MLive Kalamazoo's timeline of the Portage Schools' Superintendent search.