The Coast News Group
The school district board opted for a rushed timeline in its search for a full-time superintendent. Photo by Bill Slane
The SDUHSD board wants to hire a full-time superintendent by Oct. 14. Photo by Bill Slane
Community CommentaryOpinion

Commentary: SDUHSD superintendent search must be thoughtful, thorough

More than 375 members of the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) community have already signed on to the petition of key points regarding SDUHSD’s new superintendent search —

Given the very short timeline to locate and vet candidates and to obtain meaningful community feedback, we the stakeholders of the SDUHSD community — parents, students, SDUHSD employees, and community members — want to provide clear community feedback to the SDUHSD Board of Trustees and its search firm:

1. Please ensure that SDUHSD only hires a new superintendent who has meaningful PUBLIC EDUCATION experience as an administrator, preferably from California, so that this person can hit the ground running with knowledge and experience about California guidance and legal compliance, public education, and superior school district governance.

2. SDUHSD must only hire a new superintendent who meets the requirements of CA Education Code section 35028 that says a district superintendent must have valid school administration certificate and a valid teacher’s certificate and not try to waive this minimum statutory requirement.  Given the complexities of keeping our schools open during a pandemic, we cannot afford to hire someone without proper certification and training, and significant PUBLIC EDUCATION experience.

3. We need more time.  SDUHSD has set a hasty timeline to hire a permanent superintendent and announce the new hire by Oct. 14, 2021, meaning that in just four weeks SDUHSD intends to: obtain stakeholder feedback regarding candidate characteristics and qualifications, advertise the position, review resumes, obtain meaningful community input, interview, and conduct background checks of candidates, and negotiate an employment agreement with a new superintendent.  Parents, students, administrators, district staff, classified and certificated representatives have valuable insight. Neighboring San Diego Unified has an 11-month timeline to hire its superintendent.  Why the rush of this critical decision? Four weeks is far too short to competently screen and evaluate candidates and obtain any real feedback from the SDUHSD community. Don’t make a quick and reckless hire. 

The SDUHSD board needs to significantly increase the hiring timeline to follow best practices, including a responsible, considered selection process, allow time for valuable SDUHSD community input, and promote a thoughtful, successful hire.

4. The superintendent hiring decision is too critical to be made with only a partial board.  SDUHSD must wait until after the new board member, elected on Nov. 2, 2021, can participate so that the new superintendent has the backing of all SDUHSD trustees and all constituents are represented.  There is no legitimate reason to make this decision two weeks before a full board is elected or to pick a candidate who then may not have full trustee support.

Evan R. Sorem, Parent, SDUHSD

Jennifer Daniel-Duckering, Parent, SDUHSD