Whitehall's three remaining school board members will move ahead in their search for a new superintendent, on the advice of a district consultant.

Whitehall's three remaining school board members will move ahead in their search for a new superintendent, on the advice of a district consultant.

The three met in special session March 4 to discuss the process following the recent resignations of two board members.

Board member Brandon Howard, along with his mother and the board's vice president, Ronda Howard, resigned from their positions effective immediately Feb. 28.

The district received their letters, which were accepted unanimously by the three remaining board members March 4.

Board president Walter Armes said he was surprised to hear of the Howards' joint departure.

During the board's special meeting last week, board member Blythe Wood was elected vice president, replacing Ronda Howard in the position.

Armes also announced that on the advice of the district's hired consultant, Kathy LaSota, the board would move forward in its search for a new superintendent. According to state law, though, all three remaining board members must agree to approve the new hire if a full school board isn't in place by the time the decision is made.

A simple majority vote would apply under normal circumstances.

Superintendent Judyth Dobbert-Meloy announced her retirement last year but agreed to stay until this summer to provide for a smooth transition.

"The board has been paddling down this river for a long time," said LaSota, director of school board services for the Ohio School Boards Association. "I believe it is in the best interest of the district to move forward. Much time has been spent in determining the needs and wants of the stakeholders with regard to the perfect candidate. The picture is clear and certain.

"A smooth transition of leaders is a stabilizing factor for the district, and I believe the district needs that at this time."

School board members are meeting March 12 to receive the next list of candidates. The board threw out all 37 applications late last month, opting to start over with the application process.

According to Armes, some original applicants have inquired about applying for a second time.

LaSota said she is unsure just how many candidates she would bring to the board for her second round of recommendations. It's also unknown whether the board will be up to full strength before a final selection is made. School board members have until Friday, March 29, to agree on the appointment of two new school board members to replace the Howards.

Regardless, LaSota said, she believes the process still would remain strong if left up to only three members.

"The loss of two board members will not compromise or set back the search process. This board and community has worked to put a process in place that will be solid no matter the players at the table," she told ThisWeek via email. "That is why (this) process is so important."

Meanwhile, applications for the two open seats on the school board were due to the district offices by March 12. Armes said the three remaining board members would look over the resumes during their special board meeting.

It's unknown when interviews will be held and a final selection made. If they are not completed by March 29, though, the selection process must be turned over to a Franklin County probate judge to decide.

"And just for your information, the appointments of the probate judge do not have to come from the city of Whitehall," Armes said. "We would prefer that they did. But they do not have to."

A similar situation occurred three years ago.

In September 2010, Whitehall board members could not agree on a candidate to fill a seat left vacant by Carolyn McIntosh, so the decision was put into the hands of Judge Alan S. Acker. He made the final appointment of Darryl Hammock, one of the board's final picks in the application process.