Seven candidates in for director of safety and security job at Manatee County School District

BRADENTON -- A six-member committee interviewed seven candidates Thursday for the newly created role of director of safety and security for the Manatee County School District.

Candidates include former law enforcement officials, the manager of school security at Lake County Schools and the district's current professional standards investigator Troy Pumphrey. The committee will whittle those seven down to a few, who will then go through a one-on-one interview with Don Hall, deputy superintendent of operations. A finalist will be chosen by Superintendent Rick Mills, and his recommendation goes before the Manatee County School Board.

Candidates interviewed: Tim Harvey, Robert Day, Tony Cooper, Reginald Young, Rick Verardi, Rob Ross and Pumphrey. The committee chose them from more than 40 applicants.

Finalists have yet to be determined. Committee members discussed a number of candidates who rose to the top, including Young, Pumphrey, Cooper and Harvey.

Candidates were evaluated by Jacob Davis, an oper

ations analyst from human resources; David Underhill, principal at Bayshore High School; Sandra Ford, director of Food and Nutrition Services; Carl Auckerman, principal at Johnson Middle School; Cynthia Saunders, executive director of secondary schools; and Paul Hockenbury, principal at Williams Elementary Middle School.

A public records request filed Monday by the Bradenton Herald for the candidate names and copies of their applications was not filled by 5 p.m. Thursday after the interviews were over. District officials said the resumes of current and former law enforcement officials needed extra attention for redacting information.

Young, a consistent top choice by the committee, is manager for safe schools at Lake County Schools.

"There's an opportunity here to build something new," Young said. "In building something new, there's a chance to advance some ideas."

Young said he would be available to join the district at the beginning of 2015. Lake County is the second district Young has worked in, and he also told the committee he had previous law enforcement experience.

Pumphrey, attending a conference in Georgia, was interviewed by phone. He told the committee his background, coupled with his current work in the district, made him the best candidate. The committee was given a draft emergency management plan and a proposed department breakdown from Pumphrey to review.

"There won't be any honeymoon," Pumphrey said, explaining he could hit the ground running and already has relationships with district officials and local law enforcement agencies.

Tony Cooper, who previously worked for KeyCorp, a financial institute headquartered in Ohio, was also discussed by the committee at the end of the interviews. Cooper said he makes other people's problems his problems, which helps set him apart from the other candidates. Cooper said his ultimate goal would be to come in and make sure the district is on the right track.

"It's a very long process, but that first 90 days is going to be instrumental in getting things done the way they should be," Cooper said.

The committee also praised Harvey, who has experience with the Bradenton Police Department and as a firearms instructor at Manatee Technical Institute, he told the board.

The board voted Aug. 12 to hire a director of safety and security. The new director will be responsible for maintaining a secure environment for students, employees and visitors for an estimated annual salary of $85,000.

The job requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited educational institution and a minimum 10 years experience in law enforcement or private-sector security management. Experience in disaster/emergency planning and management is strongly preferred, as is experience working with Florida educational entities and prior administrative experience.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.