Veteran educator selected as new superintendent for Phenix City Schools

TEAPhotography Studios/Courtesy of Phenix City Schools

The next superintendent of Phenix City Schools will be a veteran educator with years of experience as an teacher and administrator.

Clarence Sutton Jr., the deputy superintendent for learning support in Huntsville City Schools, will assume the leadership of PCS on Jan. 1, pending contract negotiations, the school system announced Monday night.

Sutton been in education for 28 years, according to a news release. Before working in Huntsville, he worked in Tuscaloosa as principal of Central High School and Southview Middle School and assistant principal at Westlawn Middle School. He started his education career as an eighth-grade science teacher.

“Dr. Sutton is a wonderful educator who places student needs and desires at the center of every conversation,” Phenix City Board of Education chairwoman Yolaunda Daniel said in the news release. “His beliefs blend seamlessly with Phenix City Schools’ mission to pursue excellence on behalf of every student in every school.”

Under Sutton’s leadership, Huntsville City Schools implemented the Instructional Leadership Academy for aspiring administrators and introduced professional development focused on literacy. Central increased its graduation rate from 31% in 2010 to 86% in 2019; created a dual enrollment program for high school students to earn college credit; increased scholarship offers from $500,000 in 2010 to $6 million in 2018; and established a Ready to Work Program.

“I am so excited to be selected as the superintendent of Phenix City Schools,” Sutton said in the news release. “I am passionate about my role in continuing the mission of becoming a premier school system by serving our outstanding administrators, faculty, staff, parents, community, and especially students. I want to thank the board and the community for trusting me as we continue to collaborate to grow our schools and pursue excellence on behalf of every student.”

Darrell Seldon, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in PCS, has been the school system’s interim superintendent since Randy Wilkes ended his eight-year tenure June 30 to lead a new school system in Alabama. The Orange Beach Board of Education unanimously approved the hiring of Wilkes on June 7 to be the Gulf Coast resort city’s first superintendent.

PCS public relations specialist Carol Ann Underwood wrote in her email accompanying the news release, “Please note that the new superintendent is unavailable for interviews or comments until January 2023. PCBOE members and employees are unavailable for interviews or comments as well. We will release plans for a meet and greet at a later date. Questions regarding the search and/or hiring process must go to the board lawyer, Bob Meadows.”

Meadows wasn’t available when the Ledger-Enquirer called Tuesday morning. The L-E emailed him the following questions and will add his answers to this story when they are received:

  • Why wasn’t this decision voted on during an open session of the school board and placed as an action item on the agenda?

  • What does Alabama law say about how much of the search and hiring of a superintendent must be public?

  • How many candidates applied?

  • How many candidates were interviewed?