BESE Picks White As New La. School Superintendent

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, January 12, 2012

Louisiana's public education board overwhelming agreed Wednesday to hire Recovery School District leader John White as state education superintendent, despite blistering criticism that Gov. Bobby Jindal had too heavy a role in the choice and that White didn't have enough experience for the job.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 9-1 for White, who Jindal has heavily pushed for the job since May. The vote came only two days after the board's new term began, when several members who opposed hiring White were replaced by Jindal supporters.

"It is deeply humbling to me that you have entrusted me to impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of Louisiana children," White told the board after his hiring, which is effective immediately.

The special meeting had been hastily called and lasted only an hour. After White was chosen, board members approved a new four-year contract that will pay him a $275,000 annual salary, if lawmakers agree.

The hiring decision was criticized because BESE didn't do a national or statewide search or formal application process. Joyce Haynes, head of the Louisiana Association of Educators, called it "poli-tricks."

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