- Associated Press - Friday, April 7, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska State Education Board and the Nebraska Education Department are looking at how the state can help Omaha Public Schools after its failed attempt to hire a superintendent.

Nebraska Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt said Thursday that the board heard from community members who asked if the state can address issues that led all three Omaha superintendent finalists to withdraw from consideration last month.

“I want folks to know we’re not missing what happens in Omaha Public Schools,” Blomstedt said. “We’re also not missing what happens in school districts across our state.”

The state board and the education department don’t have authority to take over Omaha’s superintendent search, but they can offer assistance should the school district request it.

Omaha Public Schools hoped to hire a superintendent this spring to replace Mark Evans, who is retiring. The three finalists - Paul Gausman, Khalid Mumin and Jane Stavem - withdrew from consideration after the first two said neither won support of the board and the third saying the job wasn’t a good fit.

Omaha school board President Lacey Merica said she’s open to state advice but not formal intervention.

“We’re open to getting help and training and guidance,” she said.

Education Board member Pat McPherson said offering help won’t do much because the state of the district's board is affecting its credibility in the community.

“Sadly, in the case of Omaha - I’m just going to put it the way I see it - you’ve got a board that doesn’t appear to be functional,” he said.

School board member John Witzel said the focus should be on making sure the 52,000 students in the school district are getting the education they need.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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