Former superintendent candidate Vernon Orndorff said the board's decision to 'go national' prompted him to look elsewhere for promotion.
Across the Flagler Schools community, Vernon Orndorff was widely seen as the right-hand man to Schools Superintendent Jacob Oliva. He was the administrator primed and groomed to take over the top leadership post if and when Oliva moved on.
When Oliva did give notice last fall that he would leave to take a position with the Florida Department of Education at the end of the 2016-17 school year, Orndorff — the district's current executive director of leadership development — applied as a superintendent candidate.
School Board members Trevor Tucker and Andy Dance voted against a national search for applicants, which would have presumably pushed Orndorff's application to the top of the pile, since he was the only internal candidate. School Board members Colleen Conklin, Janet McDonald and Maria Barbosa, however, voted for a nationwide search, which began in February.
In an interview with the Palm Coast Observer April 3, Orndorff explained what prompted him to remove himself in March from consideration for the Flagler Schools superintendent position and instead pursue a job in Texas.
"When the board went national, I felt like it was appropriate for me and the position I am in with my family to do my own national search," Orndorff said.
Orndorff, who has been with Flagler Schools for the last 12 years, was recently hired by the Milford Independent School District as a superintendent, pending administrator certification with the state of Texas. He will report to his new position May 1. The Milford schools are south of Dallas.
Orndorff actually began his career in education in Texas, teaching and coaching in schools there, and still has family in the area. In his tenure with Flagler Schools, Orndorff served as a teacher at Matanzas High School and also coached the boys basketball team, eventually being promoted to assistant principal. In April 2013, Orndorff was named a "principal on assignment" to help the district secure Race to the Top funding. In July 2014, he was promoted to his current post.
In an April 4 phone interview with the Observer, Dance said that he had felt strongly that Orndorff be given priority in the superintendent search, or perhaps appointed as an interim superintendent until the district conducted the search.
"Personally, I had a lot of confidence in his abilities and thought he was ready for the job," Dance said. "I thought a continuation of the direction the district has moved in over the last few years would be good, while he also could have injected some new ideas. I thought the district would have been best served by that."
Orndorff told the Observer he felt he had both the experience and the familiarity with the district to be considered a top contender in the search for Oliva's successor, adding, "All my children know is Flagler Schools, so it's kind of an emotional roller-coaster."
Orndorff and wife, Cindy, have three children: Bobby, a freshman at Matanzas; Joey, a freshman at Flagler Palm Coast High School; and Ivey, a sixth-grader at Bunnell Elementary School.
Orndorff, however, has his sights set on the future and looks forward to beginning his new job, which he called "an awesome opportunity."