MMSD Board defends superintendent search consultant

District, consultant release statements about search process

MADISON, Wis. - The Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education says it knew about allegations against superintendent candidate Walter Milton and his assurances that the allegations were unfounded.

The board's statement was released on Thursday with a statement from Ray and Associates, the consulting firm that helped the school board find superintendent candidates. The release from Ray and Associates stated that it shared all information about Milton with the school board.

Milton was one of two finalists for superintendent. He withdrew his name before he could publically address the allegations, according to the school district. He withdrew citing personal reasons. Jennifer Cheatham was offered the job and later accepted it.

Milton notified school board members in documents titled "Review/Explanation of Negative Press" that an Internet search about him would turn up some "negative" articles, which he said for the most part are "inaccurate or misreported," according to documents the Madison Metropolitan School District released to WISC-TV under the state's Open Records Law in February.

Multiple news reports discuss Milton's controversial history at districts in three other states. The (Middleton, N.Y.) Times Herald Record reported that a New York state audit revealed Milton had been overpaid by more than $44,000 and that he hired a convicted child molester during his two years at an area district.

Milton used the district's credit card and got paid for things such as video rentals, car washes and restaurant meals, the paper reported.

In his most recent position as superintendent of the Springfield, Ill., Milton faced a $6.9 million budget shortfall and proposed cutting teaching jobs, The State Journal-Register newspaper reported.

Ray and Associates said it shared written and oral communications with the school board about the candidates, and media reports that the firm didn't share Internet information regarding Milton are false.

According to the statement from Ray and Associates, "Unfortunately the press was focused on the search process and not on the fact that a top notch leader was recruited and deemed the Board's number one candidate."

The Madison Metropolitan School District said it supports the work Ray and Associates did for the district.

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