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New San Dieguito Union District school board starts to search for a permanent superintendent

San Dieguito Union High School District
The newly elected board of trustees for the San Dieguito Union High School District includes, (L-R) Rimga Viskanta, Jane Lea Smith, Phan Anderson, Michael Allman, and Katrina Young. These official undated photos were provided by the district.

The San Dieguito Union High School District has launched its search for a new permanent Superintendent to replace Cheryl James-Ward.

She was fired last year for making racially charged comments. Ward apologized — but lost her job.

Since then, three new trustees have been elected by voters looking for change on the troubled school board.


“We really want to get back to where the board is less known, less in the news, and where the news is really our schools and let them shine," said Rimga Viskanta, one of the new members, who was appointed board president.

Also elected to the board last November were Janet Lea Smith and  Phan Anderson.

They join incumbents Michael Allman and Katrina Young, whose terms are up next year.

The trustees have hired Education Supports Services Group, a search firm that specializes in education and identifying qualified superintendent candidates.

Viskanta said that the firm "shows a commitment to finding the best candidate for the position through an open and transparent process, while also protecting the confidentiality of our high-quality applicants."


The process begins Tuesday night with a town hall forum at San Dieguito Academy from 6-7 p.m. Parents, teachers and students are invited to share their opinions in what is described as an interactive breakout session designed to keep individuals from grandstanding.

A second forum will be held March 14 at Pacific Trails Middle School.

Public input will be used to help trustees develop a profile of what the community wants in a superintendent. The district's stakeholders are also invited to complete an online survey if they are not able to attend one of the forums.

"The previous board was willing to experiment with putting people in the role that didn't have their administration credential or were not as seasoned in a large school district environment. That is something we are looking for this time," Viskanta said.

The new superintendent’s contract is expected to be approved by the board at its meeting on May 17, with an anticipated start date of July 1.

More information on the superintendent search can be found on the district's website.