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Minneapolis school board ends talks with superintendent pick

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Barely a month after selecting Sergio Paez to lead their district, the Minneapolis School Board unanimously voted to end contract talks with him.

In backing away from Paez, board members cited concerns about abuse allegations at a school in his former district. Board chair Jenny Arneson told him "I wish you well as you move forward with your career," the Star Tribune reports.

Paez then left the board meeting, FOX 9 says, telling reporters "I have nothing bad to say."

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The decision on what to do next hasn't been made, KSTP reports. At the meeting, the board rejected a proposal to restart the search process, MPR News says, and discussed hiring the runner-up for the position – interim superintendent Michael Goar.

But as the board was about to vote to begin contract talks with him, a crowd of protesters began chanting (see the video below), WCCO says. Protesters, led by NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds, said the public wasn't given the chance to comment on Goar's hiring, and said he hasn't addressed concerns from the black community, MPR News reports.

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The board ended up voting to table the motion to hire Goar, but it's not clear when it may revisit the issue, MPR News notes. When the school board meets again next month, it could still decide to restart the search process, WCCO reports.

Paez was initially backed as the next superintendent following a 10-month national search.

The new superintendent is scheduled to take over the position July 1, the school board's website says.

What changed in a month?

Paez has been under fresh scrutiny since a report alleging abuse of special needs students in the Holyoke, Massachusetts, district while he was superintendent there.

That report from the Disability Law Center maintains there was a pattern of excessive force and psychological abuse by staff at the Peck School in Holyoke.

It was released two days after the Minneapolis School Board chose Paez over two other finalists for superintendent.

The board then put its contract talks with Paez on hold.

Two directors on the board then traveled to Holyoke to speak with colleagues of Paez. Their report after the trip said Paez's strengths and weaknesses were confirmed but no information about the Peck School allegations would be released while the investigation is underway.

During a return trip to Minneapolis last week to defend his qualifications, Paez said he's cooperating with the investigation of the Peck School allegations but questions at community meetings were more focused on how he would address the racial achievement gap in Minneapolis schools.

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