And then there were three.

The Monroe County Board of Education narrowed the field of candidates down from five to three for the director of schools position on Thursday afternoon, deciding that Robert Hooper, DeAnna McClendon and Phillip Swanson should remain in the running for the position.

In a quick meeting that lasted just under six minutes, the School Board members placed check marks by their top three choices on a paper containing an alphabetical list of candidates and signed the bottom of the piece of paper. The signed papers were then given to School Board secretary Sandra Blair, who went to a large whiteboard in the boardroom at Central Office and publicly tallied the votes by each candidate's name.

The three candidates with the most votes were Hooper with seven votes, McClendon with six votes and Swanson with six votes. Russell Harris and Dr. Joe Miller received three votes each, respectively.

First District's John Ridgell made a motion to accept the top three candidates as tallied and 2nd District's Jason Miller seconded the motion. A unanimous vote followed.

According to the signed papers released by Blair after the meeting, the School Board members voted as follows:

  • Chairwoman Sonya Lynn, representing the 3rd District, only selected her top two candidates, Hooper and McClendon.
  • First District's Faye Green cast a vote for McClendon and Dr. Miller, noting on her paper that she “cannot differentiate between the three local candidates” so she only voted for two instead of three.
  • First District's Dewitt Upton's top three were Hooper, McClendon and Swanson.
  • Third District's Jo Cagle voted for Harris, Hooper and Swanson.
  • Second District's Marsha Standridge cast votes for McClendon, Dr. Miller and Swanson.
  • Third District's Sharin Freeman choose the three local candidates—Harris, Hooper and Swanson.
  • First District's John Ridgell also voted for the three local candidates—Harris, Hooper and Swanson.
  • Jason Miller, representing the 2nd District, cast his votes for Hooper, McClendon and Dr. Miller.
  • Second District's Janie Harrill's top three candidates were Hooper, McClendon and Swanson.

Meet the candidates

The public can meet the top three candidates—Hooper, McClendon and Swanson—and ask them questions during a Community Meeting at Sequoyah High School on Monday, June 17 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. If community members wish to ask questions, they have to be submitted to School Board Attorney Doris Matthews at the event for approval. Candidates will be given five minutes to introduce themselves to the public, followed by a question-and-answer session.

The Board of Education plans to select the new director of schools on Thursday, June 20 in a special called meeting at 6:30 p.m.

Outgoing Director of Schools Tim Blankenship's contract expires on June 30.

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