None of the five Muscogee County School Board members at the monthly work session Monday evening spoke about the recommendation for the new special-education director.
Superintendent David Lewis is recommending JoAnn Redden to be the Muscogee County School District’s executive director of programs for exceptional students. Since 1991, Redden has worked in various leadership roles for Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Fla., where she has been a consultant and data collector for The SAM Innovation Project the past two years, according to her resume.
The project’s website says, “A SAM is a person or team of school staff members who meet with the principal each day to schedule instructional leadership time, reflect on impact and develop a first responder structure in the school. Most schools use existing staff, a secretary, vice-principal or teacher leader, to serve as the SAM team. Over 700 schools in eighteen states contract for SAM services.”
According to her resume, Redden has worked with special-education students in three schools at the elementary and middle school levels. She also has worked with her district’s special-education department “to design and coordinate special education and intervention programs at these schools.”
Her previous positions include gifted education teacher, principal and assistant principal. She also taught reading courses to graduate students at Nova Southeastern University and remedial reading and writing to undergraduates at Hillsborough Community College.
She earned a doctorate in organizational leadership from Nova Southeastern in 2005, an educational specialist degree in K-12 reading from Nova in 1999, a master’s degree in educational leadership from Nov in 1991 and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of South Florida in 1984.
If the board approves Lewis’ recommendation during its Dec. 18 meeting, Redden would replace Mary Lewis (not related to the superintendent), who announced her resignation in August to return to a teaching position. Jeanella Pendleton, retired principal of Reese Road Leadership Academy, has been filling in as interim director.
Redden would report to MCSD chief student services officer Angela Vickers, who also came from Hillsborough County, where she was supervisor of educational leadership development. With a 5-3-1 vote after a contentious debate June 19, the board approved Vickers to succeed the retired Melvin Blackwell.
Board members attending the work session Monday were board chairwoman Pat Hugley Green of District 1, John Thomas of District 2, Vanessa Jackson of District 3, Naomi Buckner of District 4 and Laurie McRae of District 5. Thomas, McRae and Frank Myers of District 8 voted against hiring Vickers in June. Jackson abstained.
The objections were based on three main issues:
▪ Whether an outside candidate should be hired over an internal candidate.
▪ Vickers’ incomplete resume, which was submitted three times after board members’ questions prompted two updated versions.
▪ Whether board members are even allowed to vote against such a recommendation from the superintendent.
Lewis said during the June work session that he recommended Vickers among more than 30 applicants and after interviewing three of them, including one internal candidate.
During the work session Monday, no objections, questions or comments from board members were voiced about the recommendation to hire Redden. The number of applicants and interviews for this position weren’t disclosed.