OKLAHOMA CITY - The Western Heights School Board hired Mannix Barnes as superintendent Monday night. The board decision was unanimous, but some of those who work within the district say they are concerned, because the new leader is a current member of the school board, has no work experience in education and is the boss of the board president. 

When asked about the concerns about Barnes being on the board that also hired him, Board President Robert Everman said Barnes recused himself during the hiring process.

“When he said he was going to apply, he let us all know and said he would take himself out of the picture. He didn’t want to be any kind of influence or make us feel uncomfortable in any way. And I thought that was highly appropriate,” said Everman.

Everman said 28 candidates applied for the job, and Barnes went through the exact same process as everyone else.

Several district personnel, who say they didn't feel comfortable going on camera, expressed concern that Barnes has no experience in education.

Barnes did pass the state mandated tests to be an administrator last summer. The State Department of Education said he has an Alternative Administrative Certificate. And Everman said the board was attracted to Barnes' CEO credentials.

“The status quo won’t work anymore, frankly in education in general,” said Everman. “I think there’s a lot of change that has to be made, and I think that’s one of the reasons we chose someone with a business mind, to get us moving in the right direction.”

Everman is quite familiar with Barnes' business experience. He works for Barnes at Onefire. He also worked under him at Lucky Star Casino. Everman, though, said he doesn't see that as a conflict.

“I’ve worked with him for many, many years and I think that gives me a perspective on how he operates as a CEO. He and I work very well together,” said Everman.

Everman wouldn't say how much they will be paying Barnes, but the previous superintendent of the district made $173,000 base salary.