St. Charles Herald-Guide

Superintendent search centers on 3 finalists

By Kyle Barnett - June 20, 2013

The St. Charles Parish School Board has named three finalists in their search for a new superintendent.

The St. Charles Parish School Board has named three finalists in their search for a new superintendent.

The search was launched in late April immediately after Dr. Rodney Lafon announced he will be retiring on July 1 after serving as superintendent for 18 years. 

Lafon’s replacement will take over a thriving school district of nearly 10,000 students that is currently ranked as fifth best in the state. 

District 5 School Board Member John Smith, who spearheaded the search process, said the School Board is staying on schedule.  

“We are on track to name our next superintendent by the July 2 School Board meeting,” he said.  

The regional search returned fewer than 20 applicants and out of those yielded six qualified applicants, which were narrowed down to three finalists. 

Smith said he was happy with the turnout for the position as well as the three finalists. 

“We screened the applications on the basis of their qualifications. Those candidates we thought met the qualifications were selected,” he said. “It was a unanimous decision to name the finalists.” 

The finalists include a familiar face. Felecia Gomez-Walker, who started off as a teacher in St. Charles Parish Public Schools in 1976, is the only finalist from within the school district. 

Gomez-Walker has worked her way up through the school system after serving as a classroom teacher for 14 years. She first became principal at A.A. Songy Kindergarten Center and then took over as principal of Luling Elementary.

In 1996 Gomez-Walker joined the central administrative staff as executive director of restructuring, curriculum and instruction. Since 2008 she has served as assistant superintendent for secondary schools and quality assurance. 

She received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education, School Administration and Supervision from Nicholls State University.

The second finalist, Joey Comeaux from Napoleonville, is currently the director of career and technical education, child welfare and attendance, data and technology and transportation with the Assumption Parish School Board. 

An educator for 25 years, Comeaux has spent the past 23 years with Assumption Parish Schools where he has been a teacher, assistant principal and principal in addition to his current position in the school system’s administration. 

He attended St. Charles Parish Public Schools from 4th through part of 8th grade before moving to Assumption Parish where he graduated in 1981. 

He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Houston and his Master of Education degree and his Masters +30 from Nicholls State University.

The third finalist is Texas resident Rick Williams. He is the only candidate with previous experience as a superintendent and is also the only candidate with a doctoral degree. 

Williams has been in school administration since 1995 and from 2000 to 2003 he served his first stint as superintendent at Ranger Independent School District in Ranger, Texas where he oversaw a student body of 550. In 2003 he moved on to a position as a principal in New Braufels, Texas where he spent one year before being selected as a superintendent of the Devine Independent School District. At Devine, he oversaw the education of a student body of 2,000 from 2004 to 2008. 

Since 2008 Williams has served as assistant director of the Education Service Center-Region 10 in McKinney, Texas, which provides services to more than 650,000 students attending 80 public school districts, 31 charter schools and numerous private schools in a nine county area. 

Earlier this year Williams narrowly missed out on the chance to take over as superintendent in Rapides Parish, finishing one vote shy of being named to the position.

Williams was also a candidate for superintendent at the Papillion-La Vista School District in Papillion, Neb., but was unsuccessful for his bid at that position as well. 

Williams received his Bachelor degree in Education from Louisiana Tech University in 1982, a Master of Education from Stephen F. Austin University in 1995 and his Ph.D. in Education Administration from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. 

The next step in the process will see the candidates brought in on June 26 for a meeting with a community advisory committee consisting of local industry and business leaders, clergy members, educators, students and parents.  

A round of interviews with the School Board will follow from June 26 through June 28 before a final vote is taken by the School Board on July 2 .

Superintendent search centers on 3 finalists