Brentwood Residents Challenge Coach Hiring Process
They didn't like the selection or the procedure.
The process the Brentwood Board of Education used to hire Keith Herring as head football coach was questioned during a meeting on Tuesday night.
Former school board member Anthony Harper, whose wife Katrina Harper serves on the board, said the district failed with how it selected Herring to fill the coaching vacancy. Anthony Harper currently serves as First Ward Alderman.
He was upset with the school district's use of a hiring committee, which the district forms whenever it hires a new teacher or coach. Staff, parents and students are often appointed to the committee to function in an advisory role to district administrators. Committee members sign non-disclosure agreements before offering feedback to administrators about different candidates. Harper was on the most recent committee.
He said the school board didn't value the committee's time or feedback.
"It's your employee. You don't need to waste 14 people's time sitting in a committee when, really, our opinions don't matter," he said. "Whether or not they should? That's up to you guys to decide, but all it led to was hurt feelings, a process that I don't think was followed, and concerns about what came up in the committee process."
Harper requested copies of school board e-mails—which are generally public record—using a Missouri Sunshine Law request because he wanted to see if he was lied to during the process, he said. After addressing the board for several minutes, Harper placed a $72 check in front of Superintendent Dr. Charles Penberthy to cover staff time and copying costs.
Two other residents spoke about the process, including school board candidate Dan Williams, who was unhappy with the district's selection. He pointed to assistant coach Jeff Manestar as someone he would have preferred.
"You've got a guy who's given 25 years of his life to the residents of Brentwood, coaching football in the junior football program, then another 10 years at the varsity level," Williams said. "I don't think it was a fair decision and I don't think you represented our best interests."
Board members debated the role of the hiring committee later in the meeting. Regina Gahr said forming a committee for each hire is important because committee members are able to keep the hiring administrator impartial. Joseph Hembree and Keith Rabenberg both said they liked the committee too.
Katrina Harper asked if the committee was necessary.
“I don’t know if it really benefits us,” she said.
She also said a 14-person committee, which was the size of the last one, is too large. "That is so unmanageable. I just dont know that that’s fair to any of them.”
Penberthy said committee feedback adds another element for administrators to consider before hiring someone. Even if all committee members don't see their favorite candidate hired, he said their feedback is valuable because they bring up concerns and questions that administrators might miss.