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Bibb Schools Pick Dallemand as Superintendent | News

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Bibb Schools Pick Dallemand as Superintendent

The Bibb County Board of Education picked Rochester, Minn. superintendent Romain Dallemand as their new superintendent.

He was picked by a 5-3 vote.

Board members Albert Abrams, Tom Barnes, Ella Carter, Tom Hudson and Susan Middleton voted for Dallemand; Chairman Gary Bechtel, Lynn Farmer and Susan Sipe were opposed.

That came after a motion to name James Benfield, superintendent in Yadkin County, North Carolina, failed by a 5-3 vote, with the eight members' votes reversed.

After the final vote, board members said there would be no hard feelings despite the disagreement. Members who voted against Dallemand said they would support him fully anyway.

Board members Tom Hudson and Susan Middleton, who each supported Dallemand for the job, say they were impressed by his background. Dallemand was born in Haiti and moved to the U.S. when he was 15 years old. 

"He has a personal story of achievement and perseverance that I think can be very compelling," Middleton said.

Hudson says he'd like Dallemand to hold assemblies with students to share his story. He described discussions between board members during the search as "open and honest."

"At the end of the day we are all in support of one person, because we want to unite this community, rather than further divide this community," Hudson said.

"He's very articulate, he's research-based in everything he does, he's done an outstanding job as far as the record shows," Carter said. 

Tommy Barnes says he chose Dallemand based on criteria that he says the community asked for. 

"He fit that profile that Proact created for us," Barnes said "and that's what I based it on."

Board member Susan Sipe, who joined Bechtel and Farmer in opposing giving the job to Dallemand, says she favored finalist James Benfield because she thought he had the right experience to handle the district's challenges.

"Dr. Benfield, with his 24 years of experience, was a seasoned superintendent," Sipe said. "Other than that, I am totally in support of Dr. Dallemand."

Lynn Farmer says she also voted for Benfield based on his experience as an educator, and say that as a difference between the two candidates. She says when it came to deciding, both candidates were "very close." She says she is not concerned that Dallemand does not have enough experience to do the job.

"He has been an agent of change in his current system," Farmer said. "It's wonderful we have a new superintendent."

Bechtel says he felt some disappointment that Benfield was not selected, but says he does not think disagreements over who should lead the district will cause divisions among board members.

"I knew this was not going to be a seamless easy process because you are going to be bringing people from all over the country," Bechtel said "not everybody is going to look at things the same."

The two votes came after a closed session of about 20 minutes.

The vote ended an eight-month search.

In February, the board forced out Superintendent Sharon Patterson after more than a decade on the job. Since then, Sylvia McGee has filled in as superintendent.

Through Sept. 9, their search firm, Proact, says 173 people nationwide applied for the job.

They brought four people to Atlanta for interviews in September, including Benfield and Dallemand.

According to the biography and news articles he submitted to the district's search firm, Dallemand was born to a single parent and grew up in poverty.

He was born in Haiti, fluent in French and Haitian Creole, and learned English when his family moved to Brooklyn when he was 15.

He was a mental-health therapist for four years in Florida before becoming an educator. He worked as a principal and assistant superintendent in Hartford, Conn. Schools before being hired in Rochester three years ago.

His degrees: bachelor's degree in psychology, Mid-America Nazarene University, Olathe, Kansas.; masters degrees, Carlos Albizu University, Miami and University of Miami; doctorate and sixth-year degree, Argosy University, Sarasota, Fla.

Rochester serves about 16,000 students in 30 schools.

Dallemand's biography cites increases in the Rochester school district's math and reading scores and even bigger increases among black and Hispanic students.

He cites success in closing the district's "achievement gap" but also writes and talks about the "opportunity gap" - arguing that American public schools today fail to offer equal opportunities for all students.

The Rochester school board last year voted, 4-3, to extend his contract for three more years. According to a newspaper article that he submitted to the search firm, Dallemand has faced criticism in the district for his management style, for purchasing a $5,000 desk and because his wife and children still live in Connecticut.

The school board unanimously picked the two men as their finalists on Oct. 21, and both visited the county two days later for interviews with the board and visits to some schools.

They met in closed session last Tuesday to discuss the two men, but the meeting ended abruptly when some members appeared to walk out.

Chairman Gary Bechtel was one of them. He said last week that board members disagreed over the candidates, but he wouldn't give details.


The school board posted these resumes, biographies and other documents submitted by the two men to their search firm.




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