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San Diego Unified Advertises Superintendent Position

NEWS RELEASE: San Diego Unified Advertises Superintendent Position
Posted on 10/13/2021

San Diego Unified School District to Advertise Superintendent Job Posting Based on Input from Community Outreach Forums 

Public sessions provided input into values sought for school district, superintendent 


SAN DIEGO, CA – The San Diego Unified School District has officially posted its superintendent job opening, based on input received from parents and community members during a series of public input sessions held since July 29, 2021

The position description and job posting were unanimously approved by the Board of Education last night, launching the next phase in the search for the schools chief of California’s second-largest district. Following a thorough screening of applicants and opportunities for the public to engage with the final three candidates next month, San Diego Unified is on track to name the superintendent in December.

“Our unwavering commitment is to serve our students with the highest level of education and to provide a support system for our educators to achieve that goal,” said Board of Education President Richard Barrera. “With the district in transition to select a permanent superintendent, there is nothing more important than listening to and acting upon what our community values most in its school district leader.”

Gleaned from public input sessions and built into the job posting are key qualities, characteristics and skills required of superintendent candidates, including the ability to: draw on success in reducing inequities; respond to diverse community needs; and effectively lead a large organization.

In February 2021, the Board of Education approved the superintendent recruitment and selection process, and established an advisory committee reflecting the diversity of the district’s students and the communities of San Diego. The committee reflected diverse constituencies, organizations, and geographic areas of the district. The advisory committee’s charge was to draw on input gathered during community forums to reach consensus on the qualities sought in the next superintendent. 

To create a seamless transition, the Board of Education began setting in motion a recruitment plan. San Diego Unified hired the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) to facilitate an extensive, transparent, and authentic series of community input sessions, and to collect and report that feedback regarding the community’s needs for San Diego Unified’s next Superintendent.

 NCEE was tasked with listening, collecting, organizing, and providing all data gathered from the community input sessions. A total of thirty-four community input sessions were conducted. Many of the forums were organized around specific stakeholder groups and geographic areas, with representatives encouraged to attend and participate. These groups included: the district’s 16 high school clusters, San Diego Unified students, California School Employees Association, Community Advisory for Special Education, District English Learner Advisory Committee, and the Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee. Additional groups included: Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) District Advisory Committee, Music in the Schools, Parent Student Resident Organization (PSRO), Parent Teacher Association, and Visual and Performing Arts Foundation. 

During the course of the community input meetings, responses began to coalesce around three themes: Equity, defined broadly to include organizational programs and practices that are perceived to be inequitable and cultural beliefs around diversity; a focus on the whole child, the integration of the social nature and cognitive aspects of learning with motivation, social-emotional development, and safety; and organizational structures, or, how the system is designed and the ways in which structures and processes interact to drive behavior. 

From this analysis of the community’s input, it was determined that the qualities most important in the district’s next permanent superintendent include: the commitment to seek out more representative, frequent community feedback with proven experience to mediate the diverse views held by stakeholders districtwide to find common ground upon which difficult decisions can be made; the experience to lead a team in ways that will best support the needs of the whole child and ensures equitable outcomes for all students; and a willingness to distribute leadership in a way that pushes local decision-making and authority closer to the cluster and school levels to unleash the diverse strengths found in the community. 

“Our goal with the search going forward is to tap the diversity of voices, experiences and dreams in our community,” said Search Advisory Committee Chair Christopher Rice-Wilson. “Their thoughts and feedback will be a critical component as we search for a superintendent who reflects the best ideals and aspirations of the entire community.”  

Participants in the input forums were asked, “What are the qualities, skills and/or experience the next superintendent must have to lead San Diego Unified?” The responses were consistent with data obtained across all community meetings:

  • Embrace and listen to the community
  • Operate without a given mandate
  • Restructure the system to achieve better outcomes for all students
  • Understand education in a way that guides the development of an expansive and multifaceted curriculum
  • Effectively lead a large organization 

“San Diego Unified is committed to understanding that inclusion is not a buzz-phrase, but a belief system. The belief that every one of our students and our district family have strengths to build upon, and experiences to honor,” said Barrera, who represents the mid-city neighborhoods of sub-district B. “It was in that spirit and in our inclusion belief system, that the district reached out to the entire community in the search for a new superintendent.”

After receiving the results and specific data points of the 34 community meetings, the Advisory Committee adopted a comprehensive superintendent job posting, with the characteristics of the ideal candidate to be: a strong commitment to equity and closing the achievement gap, focus on the development of the whole child, ability to build and maintain relationships with parents and families, and has the knowledge and ability to oversee the day-to-day operations of a large educational system in an urban community.  A link to the full superintendent job description can be found here.

The job posting will be made public this month through November 11. In mid-November, the Advisory Committee will screen the candidate application packages and will recommend up to ten (10) candidates to be interviewed by the Board. In late November, the Board will select up to three (3) final candidates.  Community forums for the public to meet the three finalists and provide feedback will be held in early December. The Board is expected to appoint a permanent superintendent by mid-December.

San Diego Unified announced plans to search for a new superintendent after President Joseph R. Biden announced his nomination of San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten to serve as Deputy Secretary of Education at the United States Department of Education in January, 2021. Marten assumed her new position and left the district in May 2021. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Communications Director Maureen Magee, (619) 381-7930