School Board Picks Jesse Register for Superintendent

Nashville’s school board voted Saturday to make Jesse Register the city’s next superintendent. The decision did not come easily.

The board ruled out Santiago Wood relatively early, but threatened to deadlock over whether to choose Register, a former Chattanooga schools director, or Doris McEwen, who led a small district in Washington State. McEwen was criticized for lacking experience in a system of Nashville’s size, while in 1998 Register faced a lawsuit related to special education.

The board deliberated at length, and twice voted down motions to defer its decision and reopen the search. When pressed to vote to cross either McEwen or Register off the list, the board split 5 to 4 in favor of Register.

Despite the lack of a unanimous choice, chair David Fox says he expects the board to cooperate going forward.

“We have seen and other districts have seen what happens when you have 5-4 votes and fractious boards. It sounded to me that the board members who had some hesitancy about his candidacy or approving him made clear that they are looking forward to working with him, they’ll be supportive of him, and I expect we’ll be a very unified board.”

Register now faces a background and reference check, as well as contract negotiations. If all goes smoothly, he could take the reins in mid-January.

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