GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - After an executive session that last more than four hours Monday night, Harrison County School Board has officially hired a new superintendent for the upcoming school year.
It was well after 10 p.m. when the school board came out of executive session, where they spent hours hashing out the details of Mitchell King’s contract.
King has served as the district’s assistant superintendent since 1986. He was initially offered the job of superintendent by the board in February but turned it down. He went on to help lead the school board in its selection process of choosing a new candidate.
In March, the board voted unanimously to offer the job to Dr. Christopher Williams, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Ocean Springs School District. A salary was offered to Williams, who countered with a higher offer. At the school board meeting held earlier this month, the board went into executive session to discuss Williams’ counteroffer and instead made the decision to rescind the job offer. In that same executive session, they voted to offer the job to King.
Monday night’s school board meeting was packed with parents who have mixed opinions on King being hired for the job. Some were excited that an educator with more than five decades of experience was chosen for the job.
“I know there’s been a lot of controversy but we truly - and I’m not speaking for everyone - but a lot of us feel that Mr. King is the absolute best person for this position,” said one Harrison County resident who spoke in support for the board’s choice.
Others are upset about the lack of input they had in the selection process overall, while some are upset with King being hired in particular because he was head of the superintendent selection committee and previously declined the job when offered it.
“I’m just trying to grasp at the lack of transparency in this whole process. All of the residents, the parents, the educators of Harrison County deserve the right to be a part of the process. If that process ended with Mr. King, fantastic. But personally, he’s never… he’s retired,” said one concerned parent.
“I feel that our children deserve the best and I feel that we’ve been held back too far from that. We need someone new and innovative to take the reins and lead our district,” said Harrison County resident Kristin Stachura Allen.
The board formally extended the contract for the position to King on Monday. He is set to replace the current superintendent Roy Gill, who is retiring, this summer.