MANSFIELD -- Attendees of Tuesday night's Mansfield City Schools public forum made it clear who they want as the district's next superintendent: Coach J.
Stan Jefferson, a former administrator and football coach in the district prior to joining the football staff at Ohio State under Jim Tressel and then Urban Meyer, received overwhelming support during the meeting at Pete Henry Gym.
Jefferson did not attend the public forum, but told Richland Source he is interested in the position and is certified to be a superintendent of schools.
"I have applied for that job. We will just go from there," Jefferson said on Wednesday. "I have applied for it and we will see what is the next step in the process with the school board and where they are going with the candidates."
Those who attended the meeting were allowed to speak at the podium for three minutes each.
"What we need is someone with leadership. We need somebody who's us -- somebody who lives here and somebody who lays their head here. We need somebody that teachers will follow to do things. We need someone who won't use us as a step on their resume," said Brad Strong, a teacher of 24 years in the district, "We need someone who is going to be here for us. We have someone right here on Townview Circle.
"I encourage you to hire Stan Jefferson."
Buffy Williams, a sibling of former Ohio State linebacker Obie Stillwell (who played during Jefferson's tenure at OSU) spoke to the board about Jefferson's skillset in helping students grow.
"When Urban Meyer came, there was a decision about who was going to stay," she said. "Coach J was one of the few who got to stay because of he was doing so well with the academic development program."
"It takes a lot of strategic planning to get (college athletes to graduate). They are not just there to make it to the NFL, they are there to graduate," Williams said. "To be able to do that, withstanding the complexities there are with (college athletics) is amazing, and he did that with integrity."
Others, who did not speak, were less subtle.
'We Want Coach J' one sign read.
The forum included five speakers and lasted about 25 minutes. One of them referenced a petition, circulating within the district, that reportedly has more than 700 signatures in support of Jefferson as the school's next superintendent.
Current superintendent Brian Garverick has been reassigned within the district for the next school year. He did not attend the public forum.
Board President Renda Cline thanked all those who came out to give their opinion and wanted to be heard.
"We as a board decided to have an open board to open up to the anyone in the public annd hear their concerns," Cline said. "I think we had a really good representation of students and community tonight. I've been taking notes and we are certainly going to apply that to our search."