Wanted: New superintendent for East Meadow schools


The search is on for a new superintendent for the East Meadow School District. The current superintendent, Dr. Kenneth Card Jr., announced his retirement after five years with the district effective Aug. 23, 2023.

District Wise Search Consultants, a company contracted by districts to help find new personnel, has started the process of finding a new superintendent that is the right fit for East Meadow. District Wise was selected by the board of education after a request for proposal After reviewing and interviewing finalists, the board went with District Wise, according to Alisa Baroukh, the president of the education board.

The process is a long one, and to kick it off, the consultants aimed to gather feedback from everybody in the district on what they’re looking for in terms of a superintendent such as qualities, experiences, and skills.

They met with central administration, the teachers union, students, monitors — everybody down to the school nurse and custodians got a say in what they were looking for in a superintendent.

On Nov. 29, the district invited community members to come to the Salisbury Center for a community forum. More than a dozen on hand and over 40 on Zoom tuned in to voice their opinions and concerns. Bob Freier, Mark Kamberg, and Joann Kaplan on Zoom, all from District Wise, led the forum.

All of the input provided at the forum will let District Wise create a profile which they will use to recruit candidates.

“The only way to find the right fit is to find out about your district,” Kaplan said. “So we thank you all for being here this evening to help us learn about your district, learn about what’s important to East Meadow, and what’s important characteristics for your next superintendent.”

All comments, opinions, concerns and characteristics are given anonymously to the board after the company speaks with everyone. Then, the info will be used for questions when they screen candidates and will be used to create questions for the board.

“We are very conscious of how we handle our searches that everyone’s voices are heard,” Kaplan added.

Freier, who was on the Zoom when they asked students their opinions, said that they were all great and very open to sharing what they had to say. The top issues and characteristics that the students pointed out included: someone who has taught before and worked their way up, someone who is visible in the buildings and at after-school events, someone who can relate to students and staff, and someone who is good with budgets.

“Every district is so unique and different and we’re really focused on trying to find the right fit for each district,” Freier said. “There’s no blanket thing that’s great for a superintendent, other than I would say the common theme seems to be a curriculum background.”

At the community forum, the top characteristics seemed to be: a curriculum background, experience working in diversity, someone who is transparent, a strong leader, someone who focuses on student achievements, someone who will be visible in and out of the classroom, and someone who has a good rapport with staff and parents.

Some people in the room wondered how differing opinions would be handled. For example, some people wanted someone from within the district, while others wanted an outsider.

The consultants assured that all opinions get brought to the BOE.

“There’s typically two sides of opinion, all those opinions get shared, and the board takes that into consideration,” Kamberg explained. “When we submit the report, we will typically highlight comments that have been shared multiple times so they’re aware of that.”

Advertisements get placed for a candidate wherever District Wise thinks are the best places, including the New York State Council of Superintendents, and Education Week — a website for education news and jobs. District Wise also does its own recruiting.

The search is still in the early stages. Community and staff input has been taken, and the application for people who want to apply for the position ends Dec. 19. Then, Freier, Kaplan, and Kamberg will start interviewing people and do reference checks on the top candidates.

“Surprises are strictly for birthdays,” Freier joked. “We want to know everything about this person. More so than the references they put on their application.”

Once District Wise brings the finalists to the BOE — around late January, early February — they provide them with everything they need to know about the candidates, help them come up with questions to ask the candidates, and even help them come up with some type of rubric to help them score the candidates.

There is no set number for the amount of candidates that the company will present to the board, but Freier said that the least they’ve ever presented was four, and the most was nine.

“We tell all our clients not to give us a number,” he said. “We always feel that if we make your board’s job difficult, we’ve done a great job.”

Ideally, the person will be appointed before the May budget vote. They would start on Sept. 1.

If there are no candidates that the board is happy with, or if the candidate they pick winds up lasting less than two years, the search will start all over again free of charge.

“I know people feel that boards are going to do what they want to do, But they wouldn’t be going through this process if that was the case,” Kamberg said. “We’ve actually have met with more constituent groups than typical because (the board) really wanted to make sure every voice is heard on that individual group basis.”

All opinions need to be submitted by Dec. 10, and can be emailed to emsupsearch@districtwisesearch.com.