Higher education
3:42 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

McCoy Is Considered For Presidency At Harris-Stowe

Art McCoy, who is currently on paid administrative leave from his job as superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District, is in the running for the position 0f president of Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon has learned.

Asked about his candidacy for the job, McCoy said in an interview he did not want to discuss it while his status in Ferguson-Florissant remains unclear. But he did acknowledge that he had been asked by several people to consider the Harris-Stowe job, and he agreed to join the search pool.

McCoy had been nominated to serve on the Board of Regents of the university, but his name was never confirmed by the Missouri Senate as required. He has been removed from the regents’ page of the university’s website, and a spokeswoman for the school confirmed he is no longer a member of the board.

Michael Holmes, head of the search process, said in an interview that the pool of candidates to succeed Albert Walker as president has been winnowed down to about 10, and the remaining prospects are in the process of being interviewed. Constance Gully is serving as interim president until a permanent replacement is found.

Holmes said the names of individual candidates will not be made public until the list is narrowed further.

McCoy was placed on administrative leave by Ferguson-Florissant in November by a vote of 6-1. The district did not give specific reasons for the move, saying only that there were “differences in focus and philosophy” between him and the school board. Board members have not gotten any more specific about the reasons for his being put on leave, but they have said they are not racial and are not connected to McCoy’s active recruitment of students transferring from unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts.

The move brought strong reaction from the public in support of McCoy, who is African-American in a district whose student body is 78 percent black. No members of the board are black.

Several months before being placed on leave, McCoy got an extension of his contract to serve as superintendent in Ferguson-Florissant through the end of the 2015-16 school year. He continues to collect his salary of $217,644 a year while his leave continues.

The board, which brought formal charges against McCoy that were not made public, was originally scheduled to hear testimony on those charges this week in a closed hearing. But that hearing was postponed until March 12 and 13.

Two of the six members of the Ferguson-Florissant board who voted to put McCoy on leave are running for re-election in April; a third decided against seeking a new term on the board. A slate of candidate favoring McCoy’s return as superintendent is challenging the incumbents.

At a ceremony last weekend honoring Rosa Parks, McCoy told a gathering at the Old Courthouse that her life was changed by one event, the death of Emmett Till. He then asked the audience:

“Who’s your Emmett Till?”

At that ceremony, he declined to answer questions about his situation at Ferguson-Florissant, but he did say:

“I’m not afraid of the allegations, and the comments and the conversations because those who have touched somebody, know somebody. Those who I’ve worked with know a person, so that the accusations and things that are said are just like noise that blow away in the wind."