The Tooele Board of Education is preparing materials to search for a new superintendent to replace Jim Buckley, who resigned in August amid split public opinion over his run-ins with the law.

Meanwhile, Buckley is a finalist for a special education director post in a school district in Southern California, near where his wife also has accepted a teaching job, Richard Tolley, assistant superintendent and district business administrator, said Wednesday.

Jose Trujillo, who was assistant superintendent before Buckley resigned effective Aug. 14, will remain superintendent of Tooele schools until July 1, the remainder of Buckley's contract, said school board president Kendall Thomas. Trujillo also will be considered in the January search if he desires.

"We've got the attitude we're going to hire the best," Thomas said. "(Trujillo) is doing a good job for us."

Buckley was appointed superintendent of the Tooele School District in June 1997. He had directed special education, youth in custody and English as a Second Language programs for the Iron School District.

Buckley was arrested in July for operating a vehicle while in possession of an open container of alcohol and pleaded guilty to a class B misdemeanor, which can carry a $150 fine.

Last April, he pleaded no contest in 5th District Court to telephone harassment of a Cedar City woman, described by a school board attorney as an old family friend, and paid a $100 fine. Buckley was in Cedar City on district business at the time.

The community was split on the acts' severity and whether Buckley could remain effective as head of schools. But he resigned last August, with the school board agreeing to pay half his salary for five months and to provide health insurance until June 1999 or until he finds new employment. Buckley's annual salary was about $84,000.