Nationwide examples of HYA's controversial picks

Updated 4/30/2018 1:52 PM

Schaumburg-based Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates has had success bringing school districts superintendent candidates who went on to be named the best in Illinois and the country. But the firm has also found and presented candidates with controversial pasts.

Here are a few of them beyond the Chicago suburbs:


• Minnesota: In 2015, Minneapolis school board members picked Sergio Paez to lead the city's district but rescinded the offer days later amid allegations that staff members abused special education students at a district he led in Massachusetts, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Paez had just lost his job there when the state took control of the underperforming district, The Boston Globe reported.

• Michigan: Walter Milton Jr.'s application for the Flint School District included degrees he had not earned. In 2005, he got the job anyway but was later criticized for hiring a school administrator convicted of child molestation and leaving the district with financial problems, the Flint Journal reported.

• Tennessee: Despite John Covington resigning from two previous superintendent jobs, he was an HYA finalist to lead Nashville's public schools in 2015. He abruptly left a Kansas City, Missouri, district and took an education leadership job days later in Detroit where he eventually resigned amid criticism for lavish spending on travel and furniture, the Tennessean reported.

• Pennsylvania: Gary Smith, a finalist for North Allegheny School District superintendent in 1999, had previously been charged with fixing bids for a technology contract at his previous school district in South Carolina. He resigned and the charges were dropped, according to the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Florida.

• Texas: Anthony Trujillo was fired from an El Paso school district for several reasons, including receiving improper benefits from district construction contractors and supporting a board member's re-election bid, state records show. Shortly after in 1999, HYA recommended him as a finalist to lead Dallas' school district, but he didn't get the job, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

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