MCPS votes to extend term of interim superintendent

The Montgomery County school board on Wednesday voted to extend the term of its interim superintendent. This comes just days after the board's preferred candidate for the job suddenly pulled out.

Larry Bowers has been serving as interim superintendent since February after the abrupt resignation of Dr. Joshua Starr. He has now been appointed to fill the job for the 2015-2016 school year as they continue to search for a permanent replacement.

The school board and its president, Patricia O'Neill, have come under heavy criticism from parents for how it has been conducting their search for the next superintendent.

Parents were only told last Thursday that 36-year-old Dr. Andrew Houlihan of Houston had been tapped for the job only to see him withdraw his name 48 hours later after reports of concerns over his lack of experience as he never had been a superintendent anywhere.

Board president O'Neill denied any concerns over Houlihan's experience and said he pulled out over family considerations.

"He withdrew," said O'Neill. "He wrote me a letter and he said he had been here three different times, interviewed with us for almost eight hours over three occasions. Anyone making a move to a new area, a new job, has to consider their family."

Bowers received a standing ovation as he entered the board hearing that was packed with district employees Wednesday afternoon.

He has worked for Montgomery County Public Schools for 37 years as an administrator. He was supposed to retire in just a few weeks on June 30. He is staying on -- reluctantly -- because of the board's inability to find a permanent superintendent.

Bowers told us it wasn't an easy decision and he simply couldn't go into retirement seeing the current state of instability of the board's superintendent search.

"I was just concerned about what was going to happen if I wasn't here," Bowers said. "A lot of people have had that concern. Some wanted stability and wanted the leadership, so I felt that I was the right person to do that."

The board hired a search firm in February to help find a new superintendent. A $38,000 contract was signed with this firm along with expenses. We are told that contract is still in effect, so the search firm does not get to restart the meter once again. But there are still no numbers on the expenses that were run up on this last superintendent search.

The state superintendent of schools approved Bowers' appointment on Thursday. 

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