Short stay? Dr Edmond Heatley was announced as Bermuda’s Commissioner of Education just last August. He is one of four candidates shortlisted for the Orleans Parish School district superintendent position. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
Short stay? Dr Edmond Heatley was announced as Bermuda’s Commissioner of Education just last August. He is one of four candidates shortlisted for the Orleans Parish School district superintendent position. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead

Dr. Edmond Heatley, who assumed the role of education commissioner last August, is among four finalists for a school superintendent post in Louisiana, according to The Times-Picayune.

The paper reported the Orleans Parish School Board has opted to interview Dr. Heatley, along with three others, for the position of superintendent. The four were chosen from 80 applications, according to the paper. The board directly runs five schools, according to its website, and another 14 charter schools fall under its purview.

When he assumed his role last summer, Dr. Heatley said his top priority was fostering communication and transparency. The father of three and former US Marine portrayed himself as an agent of change and touted his record of improving graduation rates and bolstering curriculum while reining in costs. Prior to coming to Bermuda, he reduced the operational budget in his last school district — Clayton County, Georgia — by $198 million. He has described himself as “a collaborator with a sense of urgency”.

He was chosen from an initial pool of 70 applicants. He took over for Wendy McDonell, who retired. 

His appointment was not without controversy; some on the island wanted a Bermudian for the job. According to the Bermuda Public Services Union, Dr. Heatley had a probation period for the first six months as a condition of his employment. That term would have ended last month.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution labelled his stint in Georgia as controversial. He left that job abruptly just as the 2012-2013 school year began. He had intended to move to a California school district, according to the paper, but the district ultimately did not hire him. The paper described him as having a tough management style; he apparently clashed with school board members over a number of  issues. He proposed to eliminate arts programs, shorten the academic year and cease bus rides for children who lived near the school, all controversial ideas.

He also drew heat for having family on the district payroll. When he arrived in Bermuda in late August, he seemed to expect questions about some of the more controversial parts of his career.

“I am sure that some of you have done a Google search on my name and know that there are some controversial comments about me out there,” he said at the time. “Yes, I, too, know what’s on the Internet and in the blogs and I want to note that none of it is based on accurate information and fact. The reality of the matter is that anyone in a leadership position will have people who agree with their direction and leadership, as well as those who disagree with the decisions that are made.”

Since coming to the island, he has avoided the controversy that plagued other parts of his career. 

Neither Dr. Heatley nor the Education Minister Dr. Grant Gibbons could be reached for comment before deadline yesterday (Thursday).