Hiring of Poland superintendent met with controversy

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The members unanimously voted to hire Craig Hockenberry as the new superintendent

POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – The Poland Board of Education has hired a new superintendent, but the action is being met with controversy as some members in the community complain about not having enough influence in this decision.

The members unanimously voted to hire Craig Hockenberry as the new superintendent.

One concerned citizen made his feelings known while collecting petition signatures before Monday night’s special meeting of the Poland Board of Education.

Adam Turner, and others in Poland, felt like they should have had more of an influence in the selection.

“As a taxpaying citizen of Poland, Ohio, and a dad of an eighth grader and a sixth grader, I have not been allowed one iota of communication, publicly or privately, with any candidate,” said Turner.

Board President Gregg Riddle said the board followed proper policy as elected representatives.

“We did everything we could to include as many people in the process under, from my perspective, the legal counsel of this board of education,” Riddle said.

Riddle said the board wanted to keep the conversations as private as possible to protect the candidates’ privacy.

“Those were all privileged conversations, so those people had to state that they were willing to come into executive session,” Riddle said.

Riddle admits that following this procedure meant that the general public couldn’t directly interview the finalists themselves.

“They were not invited into executive session.That is correct,” said Riddle.

The board did allow a panel of nearly two dozen community stakeholders to interview the candidates. Turner says he and others in Poland will look to replace the board.

“That will probably be the last decision they make as a unified group,” Turner said.

Turner did not go into detail what his next step will be.

Hockenberry was born and raised in northeast Ohio with several connections to the Poland community. He most recently served as the superintendent of Three Rivers Schools in Cincinnati.

Hockenberry said he knows his hire was controversial and that he will work hard to earn the trust of the community.

“What you’re getting out of me is complete transparency. Open, honest and very, very engaging. I’m going to literally bury myself in the community and just get to know everybody and build great relationships,” Hockenberry said.

The board said Hockenberry had the experience and will honor the district’s traditions, while preparing students for the future.

They also said Hockenberry will help with building realignment, COVID-19 mandates and future planning.

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