REGION — In a 4-1 vote Thursday night after four hours of closed discussions, the San Dieguito Union High School District appointed Lucile Lynch as interim superintendent of the district pending an employment agreement at the board’s next regular meeting in May.
She takes over for Robert Haley, whose resignation became official on Friday.
Lynch is a former La Costa Canyon High School parent and assistant district attorney who ran for the school board in 2016, finishing third in the at-large vote to Beth Hergesheimer and Joyce Dalessandro.
Lynch also serves as the vice president of the board of directors for Beacons, Inc., a nonprofit organization she co-founded in 2018 that advocates for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
The only vote against the appointment was Trustee Katrina Young.
Duncan Brown, vice president of the San Dieguito Faculty Association, says he is concerned with how the process has played out.
“There was less than 48 hours for any viable candidate to apply and I really believe that the brief nature in which that was done was purposeful so that quality applicants were not able to apply,” Brown told The Coast News.
Brown says he’s concerned that Lynch does not hold a teaching credential or an administrative credential, which is normally required by the state education code. Before the closed session meeting Thursday, school board President Mo Muir said to the public that a waiver is allowed for that requirement under this circumstance.
Brown disagrees that a waiver is warranted for this process.
“It appears to me that this was a foregone conclusion and that they had exactly who they wanted, and it was not an impartial process,” Brown said. “It was not something to find someone that would best benefit the district.”
During the public comment before the closed session, a common refrain from parents was a call for the school board to appoint someone with school administration experience or possibly a retired former superintendent to hold down the position until a permanent solution is found.
The names of other applicants for the position were not made public.
“The best practiced approach when replacing a key leader in any organization such as a superintendent for a public school district is to place an experienced professional from the district or a retired superintendent to serve in the interim role,” SDUHSD parent Julie Bronstein said at the meeting. “There are only six weeks remaining in the school year and this is not the time to upset the apple cart and create instability for our students.”
While Lynch is not an experienced school administrator, she has long been a voice in the district and would have a good sense of the history of SDUHSD.
In the posting on the SDUHSD website, the district said they were looking for an interim superintendent with experience in a “prior role as superintendent of a public-school district or an equivalent leadership role in education, business, or other large organizations.”
The same posting also states the district expects the position will last for approximately 8-12 weeks but leaves the actual time frame open-ended as it searches for a permanent replacement following Haley’s departure from the district.
Some parents also expressed concerns with how quickly the process to appoint an interim superintendent happened, with some saying there was not enough communication with parents in the district.
“By the time most people I know heard of it, it was too late to even suggest qualified people submit applications,” said one parent named Molly who spoke during public comments. “It spoke to a broader issue we’ve been facing. There is a lack of trust and transparency with our processes.”
In an official statement, SDUHSD says the board reviewed 14 candidates for the interim position and interviewed eight of them Thursday night. It also says the district plans to begin a nationwide search for a permanent superintendent.
On Lynch, SDUHSD said in the statement that her background will suit her well in the interim.
“Using her business and educational background, Ms. Lynch looks forward to continuing a collaborative relationship with all stakeholders and working productively with the Board to support their vision,” SDUHSD said in the statement.