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S.D. School Board Approves Plan To Hire New Superintendent

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Aired 1/27/10

The San Diego Unified School Board decided Tuesday evening how they’re going to pick a new superintendent and when it should be done.

The San Diego Unified School Board decided Tuesday evening how they’re going to pick a new superintendent and when it should be done.

The school board agreed to establish a 15-member superintendent search committee consisting of community members. But the trustees were divided on how much responsibility to give the committee in picking the district's next superintendent.

The proposal that passed with a 3-to-2 vote calls for the committee to weed out applicants, vet the candidates and conduct interviews.

Trustee John Evans says he’s against hiring a headhunting team to pick the next leader. He says this needs to be a San Diego process.

“The decision about who will be the superintendent is one of the most important decisions that the board makes. So this is not about outsourcing the decision, but rather doing everything possible to get all kinds of input from community,” Evans said.

The plan also calls for candidates to make themselves known to the public. Some worry that will reduce the number of applicants because some of the best school leaders already have jobs and want anonymity.

Board members Shelia Jackson and John de Beck cast dissenting votes. They say the school trustees and outside consultants should do most of the work so the district gets the absolute best candidates.

De Beck says this kind of “do-it-yourself” approach is flawed.

“I happened to have been involved in all the (superintendent) selections for the last 20 years. I can say every single time the board interviewed the candidates face-to-face,” de Beck said. “While some of the processes of screening out the candidates were imperfect, it was at least better than relying on 15 people who have no experience in doing this at all.”

The School Board committed itself to an open and transparent process when they found out former Superintendent Terry Grier was leaving. The panel wants a permanent superintendent in place by July.

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