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Three out-of-state finalists are in the running to be superintendent of the Salt Lake City School District, the district's school board announced Friday.
The finalists include Rhonda Carr, area superintendent for Indianapolis City Schools; Alexa Cunningham, superintendent of Arizona's Tolleson Union High School District; and Krish Mohip, an administrator in the Chicago Public Schools system.
Finalists were selected from a pool of 33 national candidates. A final round of interviews will be conducted by the school board during public meetings the week of April 18.
"Our conversations in the superintendent selection process went very well," school board President Heather Bennett said Thursday. "There was a lot of unanimity and a lot of collegial feeling in the discussion."
The new superintendent will replace McKell Withers, who will retire at the end of June after 13 years in the position.
In recent years, Withers has sparred with Michael Clara, a member of the school board and a vocal critic of racial bias, inequity and discrimination he's seen within the district, which is among the most diverse in the state.
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is currently investigating one of Clara's complaints.
As part of the search for a new superintendent, the district launched an online survey and conducted a series of meetings asking for feedback on candidate qualifications from parents, students, educators and community members.
A consulting team hired by the district prepared a candidate profile based on those meetings, which emphasized cultural diversity and equity and the need for the new superintendent to "work with a divided school board."
Bennett said candidates were aware of the demographic challenges of Salt lake City School District and the tension between individual school board members.
"Many of them asked good questions about it," she said. "But they also didn't seem deterred by it."