The Coffee County Board of Education unanimously appointed Joe Pedigo as the interim director of schools during their special call meeting on Monday, April 22. Pedigo will serve as deputy director, starting May 1, under current director LaDonna McFall until McFall leaves office on May 9. On May 10, he will transition to interim director.
Pedigo spent 41 years in Coffee County Schools and 43 years in total in education. He served on Coffee County School’s administrative team for 15 years before before he retired in May 2018.
“I just hope that I can help the board transition from Dr. McFall to her replacement,” Pedigo said. “I’m just wanting to help them. The Coffee County School system has been good to me and so they asked me about this and I am in a position to help, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Once he becomes interim director, Pedigo will receive the same salary as McFall until a replacement is found and Pedigo is terminated as interim director.
He stressed the position will only be temporary.
“I have told several folks that I really do not want to un-retire,” Pedigo said.
Pedigo is currently under contract with the schools as coordinator for the North Coffee Schools renovations. He is retired and allowed to work 120 days per fiscal year.
“I’m actually on contract with the school system right now,” Pedigo explained. “I am fully willing to work for that amount during the nine-day period. Dr. McFall had given me a 75-day contract to oversee the building program. We have not used up those 75 days. So, I’m not asking for something special during that May 1 to May 10.”
Board member Shannon Duncan pointed out that, although there is no rush to hire a permanent director with Pedigo taking over, the board needed to be cognizant about timing. She explained they may lose candidates if they take too long or if the timeline doesn’t work out in favor of the fiscal year.
Attorney Charles “Chuck” Cagle agreed that it was smart to keep timing in mind, but pointed out it would be admirable if the school system could find a replacement in two months.
The board is gathering applications for the director’s position and is figuring out the logistics of how to select the top applicants without violating the Sunshine Law or engaging in a secret ballot.
Board chairman Brett Henley suggested the board go over the applications individually and whittle applicants down. They would bring their top choices to the full board for consideration before scheduling interviews.
“We have to be very careful, Mr. Chairman and members of the board, to keep this matter open and in the public,” Cagle said. “I get a little concerned when I hear that a single board member is going to call a set of references individually. I have actually conducted superintendent searches, I’m not applying for business, please, but we generally do set out a schedule. We’re going to accept applications to this day, we’re going to screen applications to this day, we’re going to narrow our applications – and by the way, your method of narrowing applications could be used a ballot.”
He added the ballot has to be published and recommended the board set out a simple schedule and once they narrow it down, appoint a committee to reach out to references, publish the results of the reference checks and say how many were contacted, and move on from there. The applications are like employee files – they are public with some confidential information allowed to be redacted.
The Board of Education entered into an executive sessions after the meeting to discuss and sign Pedigo’s contract. This includes vacation time and sick leave.
Deputy director search
Coffee County Schools has been without a deputy director since Jan. 23, 2019, when former Deputy Director Joey Vaughn took the position of director of Manchester City Schools.
During Monday’s meeting, McFall revealed she is no longer searching for a replacement deputy director.
School board member Pat Barton addressed the issue of Pedigo temporarily named deputy director of schools. He asked if Pedigo would be comfortable inheriting the director’s responsibilities knowing he would not have a deputy.
“I am comfortable with that,” Pedigo said, adding he felt the new permanent director should be the one to hire the deputy.