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San Dieguito Union High School District asks for community input for new superintendent

The San Dieguito Union High School District begins town hall forums for public input in the search for a permanent superintendent.

There is a new effort to collect public input in the search for a permanent superintendent in the San Dieguito Union High School District.

The district's board of trustees has three new members who were elected last November. They were crucial in the decision to hire Education Support Services Group, a consulting firm that specializes in identifying school superintendent candidates.

Tuesday evening, advisors with ESSG led the first of two town hall forums for everyone who is a stakeholder in the district. About 40 people showed up to the event at San Dieguito Academy.


They were invited to participate in break-out groups that answered three questions:

  1. What are the best things about SDUHSD that might draw superintendent candidates to the District?
  2. What are the challenges/needs a new superintendent will find most pressing upon taking the job?
  3. What unique attributes, skills, or experiences are important for the incoming superintendent to successfully lead SDUHSD into the future?

“This way is a good start to let parents give their opinion and also get to know each other. As long as they can really get our point," said Mingzhu Zhang, who has children in the district.

Duncan Brown is the parent of a former student and a school counselor. He said, "Teachers working with students and keeping politics out of the classroom; that is what I would like the superintendent to bring us back to.”

M.G. Perez
Mingzhu Zhang looks at some of the suggestions posted in a town hall forum Hall, Tuesday, on the campus of San Dieguito Academy. She is a parent in the San Dieguito Union High School District, Encinitas, Calif., March 7, 2023.

The consultants will collect the comments and information from the forum to develop a professional profile of the ideal candidate as described by the stakeholders.

A second town hall forum is scheduled for next Tuesday, March 14 at Pacific Trails Middle School from 6-7 p.m.

There is also an online survey posted on The district’s website that can be submitted by March 15.

All contributions will be transcribed and shared with the board of trustees in preparation for their interviews with candidates in April.

"This board is very much focused on supporting the community of school sites, to see how we can be supportive and not take away the good works of students and teachers by creating 'side shows,'" said new school board president Rimga Viskanta.

Last June, the former board of trustees fired superintendent Dr. Cheryl James-Ward after just a few months on the job. She made racially charged comments at a district meeting and later apologized.

In a written statement to KPBS News Tuesday, Ward said "My overlying hope is that every student and adult in the district is seen, heard, included, and supported. I wish the board good luck in this journey and will pray for whoever is selected to be the next superintendent."