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Board of Ed’s “Preferred Candidate” Says No Thanks


Just three days after the announcing him as the man they preferred to inherit the post of Superintendent of Schools, the Montgomery County Board of Education announced that their preferred candidate has withdrawn himself from contention for post.

On Thursday, May 14, Montgomery County Board of Education President Patricia B. O’Neill issued a statement declaring that Dr. Andrew Houlihan, who is currently serving as chief academic officer of the Houston Independent School District, was the Board’s identified preferred candidate.

Late Sunday afternoon, the Board of Education issued another statement saying that earlier in the day, Houlihan informed the Board that he was withdrawing himself from consideration as superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools.

"The Board appreciates Dr. Houlihan's interest in the position and wishes him the best of luck in the future. The Board will continue to focus on a search for the next superintendent of schools," said O’Neill in the statement.

In the original update on the status of the School District’s search for a new Superintendent, the Board indicated that it had reviewed the applications and credentials of 25 candidates from 17 states and conducted in-person interviews with seven people—all of whom work in mid-sized to large districts as a superintendent, deputy superintendent, or senior executive.

The Board of Education said that Houlihan had met with a community panel of Montgomery County stakeholders. The community panel was assembled by the Board president to provide feedback and insight to Board members as they approach a final decision.

The Washington Post reported that two people close to the panel said the group did not officially vote on Houlihan. One said members had questions about his level of experience and his vision, with some expressing concerns about the learning curve he would face as Montgomery deals with challenges including rising enrollment and budget shortfalls.

In February, Joshua P. Starr announced that both parties had “reached a mutual agreement that will end Dr. Starr’s tenure with Montgomery County Public Schools.” It is not clear if Starr wanted to leave for greener pastures or the Board of Education was unhappy with his performance. The District has been under the direction of Interim Superintendent of Schools Larry Bowers since February. Bowers is set to retire at the end of this school year.