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Superintendent search underway for San Marcos Unified

SAN MARCOS — The San Marcos Unified School District’s search for a new superintendent is underway, with the governing board expected to make a selection by April 20.

The district initiated the search soon after the new governing board was seated on Dec. 15. In the meantime, SMUSD has been led by former superintendent Kevin Holt, followed by current Interim Superintendent Tiffany Campbell, as of Jan. 19.

The position became vacant after former Superintendent Carmen García abruptly resigned in September following months of conflict with parents and district teachers.

The district has secured the help of advisers Suzette Lovely and Beverly Hempstead from Education Support Services (ESS), a consulting firm that helps school districts with superintendent searches, governance training, human resources and more.

“The Governing Board’s decision to retain Dr. Lovely and Ms. Hempstead to advise and engage in the search for our district’s next superintendent shows a commitment to finding the right candidate for the position through an open and transparent process,” Campbell said. “While I am not involved in the recruitment effort, I know that stakeholder engagement has already begun with our families and staff. I am confident that the board will take all feedback and input seriously and will make a decision that will be best for our entire SMUSD educational community.”

Applications for the position are due Feb. 26; until then the board will continue to gather input from various stakeholders.

“In January, we spent time with a variety of focus groups, so different stakeholder groups like principals, parents, community members, members of the city council, city managers and district office staff, and we just gathered information about the district’s strengths, some of the needs and issues that an incoming superintendent might need to be aware of and important qualities of a new superintendent,” Lovely said.

These findings will be presented to the board on Feb. 16.

Lovely also told The Coast News that the new superintendent can be an inside hire or an outside hire, and does not have to be from San Marcos or from San Diego County.

“The parameters that the board has given us is that they want the best candidate that will lead SMUSD into the future,” Lovely said. “The board is really looking for a candidate that is able to take a great district — a district that is known for being exceptional — and move it forward.”

After all applications are submitted, Lovely and Hempstead will do a full vetting and screening of each candidate, which is expected to take a few weeks.

Once they narrow down the applicants, they will present them to the board, who will then decide which applicants to interview extensively.

The new superintendent’s contract will officially be approved by April 20.