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South Bay Superintendent Shakes Up Leadership

Pesonnell Moves Spark Controversy

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A South Bay school superintendent is under fire for initiating a leadership shake-up in his district. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis says some educators are now questioning the direction of the district.

— A South Bay school superintendent is under fire for initiating a leadership shake-up in his district. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis says some educators are now questioning the direction of the district.

Jesus Gandara is superintendent of the Sweetwater Union High School District.

He's recently come under attack for demoting two of the district's highest-ranking female administrators. He also unexpectedly reassigned four principals without a formal explanation to the public.

One of the top-ranking officials -- Karen Janney -- has since left the district because of the demotion. She was at the forefront of implementing a series of education reforms to get Sweetwater back on track academically next year.

Teachers like Carol Guerrero now worry the drastic change and Gandara's leadership-style will impede future progress.

"Teamwork has to be reflected in the culture of the district," Guerrero said. "If you have someone at the top that doesn't believe in teamwork, I don't think you can build a culture of teamwork which is necessary for reform at a school level."

District officials say the change is a personal action approved by the school board. But there's also been a series of allegations against Gandara including gender bias and fiscal mismanagement.

The district's Lillian Leopold denies the allegations. She believes some of the accusations are tied to unresolved negotiations with the teachers union.

"Whenever you have difficult economic times, whenever you have a difficult negotiation for a contract, there will be accusations of all kinds," Leopold said. "We think (the accusations) are unfounded."

Last month all six of the district's employee unions cast votes of "no confidence" in Gandara's leadership. But district officials call that a union tactic.

Check back with KPBS Education Reporter Ana Tintocalis as she continues to take a closer look at the administrative culture in the Sweetwater Union High School District.

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