The City Council is scheduled to hold public interviews Monday afternoon to fill the vacant Decatur Youth Services director position, despite confusion over whether an internal candidate was promised the position.

Human Resources Director Richelle Sandlin on Thursday said 15 people applied and eight met the minimum standards for the position left vacant with the retirement of longtime Director Bruce Jones.

The council decided to interview five applicants. Interviews will be held starting at 1 p.m. on the seventh floor of Decatur City Hall.

An open records request by The Daily showed the finalists are:

• Lemzel Johnson, lead program coordinator, DYS;

• Elizabeth Cantrell, assistant principal, Hazel Green High School;

• Richard Collie, coordinator of student inclusion, Athens State University;

• Stuart Lamp, director of event services, USA Cycling; and

• Chester Ayers, caregiver, R&R Group Homes, and in-school suspension teacher, Oak Park Elementary School.

The advertised pay range for the position is $70,854 to $107,812.

The confusion over who would become DYS director after Jones retired appears to have started early last year when Jason Lake was promoted from assistant director to director of Parks and Recreation.

Jones, whose last day was Jan. 31, stated publicly when he hired Johnson in June as lead programs coordinator that he wanted Johnson to succeed him as director in the same way Lake succeeded Jeff Dunlap to supervise Parks and Recreation.

Sandlin said the city was seeking a new lead program coordinator at DYS at about the same time Lake was promoted last year.

“Applicants usually want to know about the future of the position and the potential for advancement,” Sandlin said. “And there may have been some discussion about a succession plan.”

Sandlin said most cities allow the administrative branch to select a successor to train as an assistant director, which is what the city did when it hired Lake.

However, Councilman Billy Jackson complained that this process takes away the council member’s power and responsibility to hire directors.

Council President Paige Bibbee said Wednesday she changed the process so that council members select who they want to interview and hire to satisfy Jackson and Councilman Charles Kirby.

Jackson said he understands there may have been some confusion, but “this is how it should be done. This is the council’s responsibility.”

The city clerk is the only director-level position that should have a successor-in-training “because of all of the responsibilities. A city clerk is responsible for so much," Jackson said.

bayne.hughes@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2432. Twitter @DD_BayneHughes.

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