T.J. Schneckloth, a 10-year veteran of the Davenport School District, led his first school board meeting as interim superintendent on Monday. Schneckloth, 41, was the district's director for federal and state programs and student services. He began his interim duties Thursday, taking the place of Art Tate, who resigned effective Oct. 31.

The Iowa Board of Education issued an ultimatum to the Davenport School District: Hire an “appropriately licensed and endorsed superintendent” no later than Aug. 15, or keep Interim Superintendent TJ Schneckloth in place through the next school year.  

At the Davenport School Board’s committee of the whole Monday night, that ultimatum was challenged.

“I’m checking into that. I’m not sure that legally can be done,” Board President Ralph Johanson said. “... There are some technical legal issues with a state organization forcing somebody to work in a particular position.”

Shneckloth declined to comment after the meeting.

Davenport previously negotiated timelines with interim due dates for eight of the 22 required corrective actions from the Phase II report, a state-mandated plan to fix problems in the district. While those plans were presented at the June 12 meeting, the Davenport School Board spent Monday night — the first committee of the whole since the state meeting — discussing the negotiations.  

Citation 17 contained the corrective actions addressing the district’s unstable leadership. If Schneckloth were to remain in the superintendent position through next school year, the action item calls for an expert mentor to be assigned to help conduct a search for a permanent superintendent. 

The district hired HYA Associates to conduct the superintendent search this school year, which saw Robert Kobylski chosen by the board.

Kobylski’s three-year superintendent contract was approved by the board Feb. 25, but the Board of Educational Examiners declined to recognize his Wisconsin license. He renewed his Illinois license — obtained with the completion of his Ph.D. from Loyola — and was set to complete online coursework Sunday. His starting salary is contracted at $239,000.

The Board of Educational Examiners is expected to make a decision within four to six weeks, Schneckloth said. On the long end of that estimation, the decision would be announced right at the Aug. 15 deadline given by the state, assuming the Fourth of July holiday will not affect the timeline at all. 

For Director Bruce Potts, that's a little too tight for comfort.

“My rhetorical question to the State Board of Education is, if you’re the Board of Education, I don’t know why you can’t ask the Board of Educational Examiners … 'when this paperwork shows up, jump on it and handle it,' ” he said. “It doesn’t seem to me that it should be a stretch for a Board of Education who has shown themselves to be quite assertive.” 

The Board of Educational Examiners has previously told the Quad-City Times — after several messages and emails — that they do not comment on individual applications for licensure.

Regardless of whoever serves as superintendent in the fall, the corrective action calls for them, as well as the local board and the administrative team, to work with an expert mentor assigned by the Department of Education.