Has DJUSD Found Its Superintendent?

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SuptSearch

While the board has not finalized a hire, it appears that the school board has found a new superintendent, and the only thing we know is that he is not from the local school district.

A press release sent out late in the afternoon on Wednesday confirms that the board “has now narrowed the search to a finalist and will conduct further inquiries as needed. The Board’s goal is to make a formal announcement of its decision and approve a contract at its regular meeting on June 2.”

In late January, Superintendent Winfred Roberson was named a finalist for a position at another district and in mid-February officially announced his resignation.  Former administrator Kevin French was named as interim superintendent, but the board has moved quickly to find a permanent replacement.

The press release from the school district details what they call “an extensive search” where they have “brought forward 19 strong and diverse candidates, including 7 current superintendents, 9 assistant or associate superintendents and 3 education-related private sector candidates.”  The board conducted interviews of six of those candidates on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week.

“Following the initial interviews, the Board narrowed the search to 3 finalists and conducted follow-up interviews with those candidates.  All of the candidates were of high quality and those who reached final consideration brought tremendous skills and resources to the interviews,” the district said on Wednesday.

The release continued, “The Board expressed its appreciation to the students, parents, staff, and community members who provided valuable feedback to Leadership Associates (the superintendent search firm) and to the Board.  The position description, which was developed on the basis of that input, was used to guide reference checking and the identification of interview questions.”

“We’re very excited to have received so many highly respected candidates with such strong skill sets.  Davis is a special place with a strong and educated group of parents and a national reputation. We are seeking a highly knowledgeable, experienced, collaborative, and visible leader with an excellent track record in his or her former district and who is well liked by all colleagues. We want someone who is passionate about the potential of all students and works tirelessly toward raising expectations toward accelerating achievement for each and every student in the District,” said Board President Madhavi Sunder.

Board Vice President Barbara Archer added, “We are looking for a systems thinker who will lead us through our Local Control Funding Formula (LCAP) here in the District with a focus on local control and equity for all students in the District. And we are looking for a strong instructional leader who combines vision with action, and has the keen ability to bring teams together around a vision for students.”

The board will finalize contract discussions and conduct a site visit in the finalist’s home district before an appointment is made.   “We are confident in the skills, talents and experience of our finalist and look forward to concluding this process and making a formal appointment,” Ms. Sunder said on Wednesday.

The name of the finalist will become known shortly, as the board will have to agendize a special meeting when they go to the site of the finalist’s current district.

The board has moved very quickly in this process.  Back in January, Board President Sunder noted, “Over the last six years, our school district has advanced under Winfred Roberson’s leadership.”

The school board hired Winfred Roberson as Superintendent in June 2010 following the abrupt departure of previous Superintendent James Hammond, hired just three years prior. Mr. Roberson had no previous experience as superintendent and had been hired to be principal at Davis High School just the year before, after serving as principal previously in another district.

Under Superintendent Roberson, we have seen the district transition from the emergency funding days of the great recession to more stable funding under an improving economy.

DJUSD under Winfred Roberson’s leadership passed additional parcel taxes and renewals in 2011, and twice in 2012. The district, despite the improving fiscal picture, remains challenged.  Associate Superintendent Bruce Colby noted in January that Davis is an “average-funded district,” despite the $530 that most homeowners pay in parcel taxes. The average school district receives $9200 per year in per-pupil funding, and Davis receives just under that at $9170. Without the parcel tax, the per-pupil funding level would drop to $7,922, they said.

The last two years have been punctuated with controversy. In 2014, a dispute over the handling of a volleyball coach’s VSA (Variable Services Agreement) and that volleyball coach’s treatment of a student-athlete exploded with a controversy that ultimately led to the resignation of school board member Nancy Peterson. Adding to the controversy was Ms. Peterson’s daughter, who was central to the dispute with the coach, the conflict of interest in Ms. Peterson’s intervention, and the district’s $22,000 legal expenditure on an investigation.

Ms. Peterson would be replaced by Alan Fernandes in May 2014 and, by November, it was an entirely new school board with the exception of holdover Susan Lovenburg

The next Superintendent will be asked to oversee a new era of funding, as the district receives $3 million in funding under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), plus a one-time fund from Proposition 98.

The district also appears set to grapple once again with the achievement gap.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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56 thoughts on “Has DJUSD Found Its Superintendent?”

  1. Marina Kalugin

    I don’t understand why this is a “secret” process.   After the truly miserable performance by the previous Superintendent, who fortunately left before we got the recall campaign going, parents and other stake holder should demand to be allowed to be part of the “selection” process.

    Now that it is at the “final 3 stage”…the finalists should be brought forth for stakeholders to ask questions and provide input.

    And, if none of them pass muster, then the process should begin anew.

    PS>   Roberson had nothing to do with the improving economy and much of the other “accomplishments” had nothing to do with him either.

    His “leadership” brought common core, full of uproven “new” methods developed by a corporation and supported by booksellers as this resulted in new books, training methods for teachers et al   Under Roberson’s tenure, the GATE program was attacked and decimated, with the only true expert in the school district unceremoniously “pink-slipped”….and so forth.   Truly the wrong actions in a city which was once honored as the second most highly educated in the US>>>.

    More and more families in Davis are sending their children to private schools and we saw the growth of St. James and the boom and expansion of Peregrine schools…as well as continued support for secondary schools in Sacramento and elsewhere.

    This is what Roberson had truly done to this school district and town.

    Given that there is currently only one person of any sense on the School Board, I am truly concerned who these “excellent finalists” are.

    And, who is making the decisions and based on what criteria?

    1. Barack Palin

      And, who is making the decisions and based on what criteria?

      Well, if one of our esteemed commenters gets their way “hopefully it will be a woman of color”.

      How’s that for criteria?

      1. Misanthrop

        Where do you get this stuff? I followed this process closely and I never heard a single word from anybody about race or gender. Maybe you have some inside information or more likely your information comes from the bias inside your head.

      2. Frankly

        I was thinking the same BP.

        And it absolutely is part of the recruiting and selection criteria.  Anyone that says otherwise is ignorant about it is lying about it.

    2. SODA

      Rather than make unsubstantiated statements about the previous Superintendent, I would applaud the apparent fact that this board which has lately seen contentious times, is in a quick agreement on a new Super.

    3. wdf1

      MK:  More and more families in Davis are sending their children to private schools and we saw the growth of St. James and the boom and expansion of Peregrine schools…as well as continued support for secondary schools in Sacramento and elsewhere.

      That is one narrative if you want to ignore other things, such as the closing of the Merryhill campus in south Davis, and in Sacramento the closing of Loretto High.  The recession was very likely a contributing factor to the closing of those schools.  And also there was the expansion of Da Vinci Charter Academy in Davis.  Mostly what I observe are instances in which families join the Davis public schools at whatever grade level that Davis private schools (St. James, Waldorf, Grace Valley) end their instruction.  The interest and enrollment of out-of-district students is also an indicator of desirability of Davis schools.

  2. Misanthrop

    Its unfair to blame Roberson for what is happening to Gate. That can fairly be blamed on the board majority.

    Still I agree that the reason for the secrecy at this point seems a little over done. Perhaps they were worried people might applaud one candidate or another.

    Finally the focus on LCAP and process shows a board that is out of touch with the needs of the community. LCAP is a house keeping document for the state. It seems that Tom Adams is more concerned with using our school district as an incubator to implement and test policy for his day job at the State Department of Education than he is about providing the kind of leadership Davis schools need. Still we should give the new person the benefit of the doubt at least until we know who the person is.

    1. wdf1

      Misanthrop:  Still I agree that the reason for the secrecy at this point seems a little over done.

      Personnel issues are subject to confidentiality until a final decision is made.

      Misanthrop:  Finally the focus on LCAP and process shows a board that is out of touch with the needs of the community. LCAP is a house keeping document for the state.

      LCAP is the process by which the state awards new money to a district.  If the district doesn’t follow the required process, then they become accountable and at risk for not receiving the money, as modest as it might be.  The process calls for local input and local accountability.  If there are local needs that you think can be addressed by new state money, then it’s important for you to consider participating in that process.

      1. Misanthrop

        Yes, as I said, LCAP is a house keeping document. It is to comply with the law for getting money from the state and money is important but the focus on it by several trustees as being central to what the Superintendent needs to focus on shows a lack of understanding of the needs of the district.

        For example, the district needs true leadership, someone who can inspire to get the best out of people and at the same time someone who can make the changes needed when people aren’t getting the job done. For too long the district has pretended that everyone from the top on down was doing a great job when anyone with any contact with the schools likely knows  there are problems that aren’t being addressed while, by the way, the board wastes huge amounts of time on LCAP, strategic plans, gate and clapping.

        As for Personnel issues there is no confidentiality requirement for not publicly vetting a new Superintendent. When Hammond was hired we knew who the three finalists were and they met with members of the community before a final decision was made.

        1. wdf1

          Misanthrop:  As for Personnel issues there is no confidentiality requirement for not publicly vetting a new Superintendent. 

          I suppose that’s an option the board can take, but the board is still responsible for finding a candidate to say yes to a contract offer.  Thus, coming up with three finalists isn’t really the end of the process.  On doing site visits, observations maybe underwhelming. There is the contract negotiation process.  One or more (even all) of the finalists can ultimately say “no, thank you”  to working in Davis, in which case the board has more work to do.  I think a board is justified in maintaining confidentiality at this point.  Probably this is an “agree to disagree” issue.

        2. wdf1

          Misanthrop:  It is to comply with the law for getting money from the state and money is important but the focus on it by several trustees as being central to what the Superintendent needs to focus on shows a lack of understanding of the needs of the district.

          I have been watching the LCAP process in this district.  I find that there is a lack of public participation on the advisory committee, thus the committee is weighted heavily to DJUSD staff members.  Thus, in general, the proposals put forth reflect a staff perspective on district needs, but not really a public/community perspective.  The board is the last stop to give community perspective, which they can do, but to do so succumbs to micromanaging.

          A strong superintendent with good people skills has the potential to make public connections to bring in more productive community participation.  That in turn is a way of vetting ongoing community input toward strategic planning ideas.  I don’t know if that is what the trustees had in mind with their LCAP comments, but that is why I see value in pursuing that line of thinking.  In other words, this is one way to understand the needs of the district from a community perspective, which seems to be your concern.

    2. wdf1

      Misanthrop:  Its unfair to blame Roberson for what is happening to Gate. That can fairly be blamed on the board majority.

      Yes and no.

      In Davis, education discussions matter a lot to the community, and are often quite vigorous, compared to other school districts.  The ideal situation is to allow a public process to come up with and vet options for final board decision.  That didn’t happen recently for GATE.  I think strong and creative leadership had the potential to salvage the GATE advisory process to allow that to happen, but we didn’t go that route.  I found Roberson to be very congenial, respectful, willing to listen to all points of view, but reserved in action (IMO), often to a fault.  A superintendent willing to be more assertive could have mitigated some of the acrimony.

      1. Misanthrop

        Its hard for a Superintendent to be better than the board majority. The Board majority made it clear what it wanted and that is what they have. If you were talking about the Volleyball coach where the Superintendent didn’t stand up to a board member when he should have and then the board voted to support the Superintendent’s decision when it shouldn’t have you would be correct. In the case of Gate the board summarily fired the Coordinator even when the Superintendent recommended rehiring her so you can’t blame Roberson for that. As for Gate Advisory, once the board voted last June it was a clear mandate and there was nothing Roberson could do  short of leaving. Oh! The district gave lip service to taking input but did only what they wanted, they kept Gate Advisory, they even met with the Gate teachers once and suffered hours of public comment and even some horrible applause for a view other than the board majority. But in the end the board majority did exactly what it wanted. Blaming Roberson for doing what his bosses wanted is like blaming Mrak for supporting Katehi.

        1. wdf1

          Misanthrop:  Its hard for a Superintendent to be better than the board majority.

          Although the board hires the superintendent, I see that the superintendent’s role is to be collaborative with the board.  The board needs to trust the superintendent enough to mediate staff resources with community and board interests.  The superintendent is the top executive professional in the district; the trustees are elected, but are likely not to have the same kind of professional experience.  As such, I think a good superintendent can offer pathways, policies, and actions that can minimize public acrimony.  It appears that it is relatively easy for a superintendent to find equivalent alternative employment if he/she chooses to part ways.  It isn’t in the board’s interest to be regularly investing time hiring yet another superintendent if they don’t need to.

  3. Marina Kalugin

    At UC, even a faculty position is open to ALL for attending seminars and providing input.  Similarly, with Dean Searches, Chancellor and Provost titles, etc..

    Many searches at all levels now are international in scope……once the search committee has chosen finalists, then  ALL campus constituents are openly invited to attend public talks and forums and meet and chat with the finalists…

    Everyone, including students, and people from town can show up and then send their input up to the head of the search, typically the Provost for almost all levels of hiring.

    Once the person is a finalist there is no more secrecy….

    And, yet for a hobunk Superintendent position in a town of 60-70K, it is not even up for so much as a “boo”….what if someone in town knows the REAL reason someone is moving on….

     

     

      1. Marina Kalugin

        that was the point…and he was also kinda clueless…..the stuff with common core truly amplifies that …  and also giving Deanne a pinkslip?   for at least the third time since my kids graduated GATE…

        also, all the nonsense about too many GATE kids and so forth……why should a child in Davis not be allowed the opportunity that someone in any other district would get?   this nonsense was so uprecedented in a “college town”….- just because they happen to live in a town with a disproportionately higher percentage of GATE qualified at the nationally set guidelines and norms?

        Should we also hold back the National Merit Scholars because Davis has more than their share?   gimme a break…

         

        1. The Pugilist

          Roberson didn’t give Deanne a pinkslip.  Staff recommended her contract be renewed, three board members overturned it and canceled her contract.

  4. Misanthrop

    They may make a good pick. The jury is still out on that. We will see. The search firm has a good record. I simply don’t think the community needs to be kept in the dark once they are down to three.

  5. Marina Kalugin

    PS.  we already had a guy of color as a superintendent, WAY out of his league…

    At UCD, we finally had our first DEAN of color leave before his 5 year review period….after running amuk for 5 years – also way out of his league..

    Get the best person and you won’t be sorry…whatever color or wherever they are from or whatever gender or not they are or are not…..make sure though it is not over the persons head, otherwise keep searching…   jeez…..

    PS> a true test would be to have to interview with GATE parents….I would volunteer He he

    1. ryankelly

      PS.  we already had a guy of color as a superintendent, WAY out of his league…

      At UCD, we finally had our first DEAN of color leave before his 5 year review period….after running amuk for 5 years – also way out of his league..

      Marina, This is offensive and indicative of unconscious bias on your part.

      1. Marina Kalugin

        you have NO idea who I am or what I do or what biases I may have or not have….and frankly why are you offended when I am simply stating a fact which ALL faculty, who I have had any contact with in CBS have shared over the years….we are in a Dean search now because he bailed prior to his five year renewal….   we are now hoping for a WOMAN>>>>regardless of color…

    2. Barack Palin

      Get the best person and you won’t be sorry…whatever color or wherever they are from or whatever gender or not they are or are not…..make sure though it is not over the persons head, otherwise keep searching…   jeez…..

      I agree.  Believe it or not I’ve been called names for having the opinion that the best candidate should be hired regardless of race or gender.

    1. The Pugilist

      Common core is a state and federal mandate, so they have no control over that locally.  Do we trust them?  That’s really the wrong question – we don’t have a choice.  It’s done.

      1. Marina Kalugin

        nah…..the recall campaign was just getting started when luck of luck I happened to see on the DE that Roberson was a finalist elsewhere…then I had to hush up and wait…

  6. Marina Kalugin

    now pugi you are TRULY showing your ignorance….lol

    PS>> please provide the links….and the docs….for what you are claiming…

     

    1. wdf1

      MK:  now pugi you are TRULY showing your ignorance….lol
      PS>> please provide the links….and the docs….for what you are claiming…

      I’m not “Pugi,” but I can address that:

      Educational standards describe what students should know and be able to do in each subject in each grade. In California, the State Board of Education decides on the standards for all students, from kindergarten through high school.

      Since 2010, a number of states across the nation have adopted the same standards for English and math. These standards are called the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Having the same standards helps all students get a good education, even if they change schools or move to a different state. Teachers, parents, and education experts designed the standards to prepare students for success in college and the workplace.

      The California Department of Education helps schools make sure that all students are meeting the standards. Below you will find information about the standards and the CCSS-related activities taking place in California. source

      California State Board of Education adopted Common Core standards in August 2010.  source

      The federal government mandates standardized testing on state standards through the ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’ (ESSA) of 2015.  Annual standardized testing was a provision extended from the previous, No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001.  source

      Therefore, DJUSD is obligated to offer Common Core standards instruction in order to perform adequately on the federally mandated standardized tests.

      If there is a way out of this, please explain.

      1. Marina Kalugin

        many states refused the common core nonsense..

        and so have communities, within states,  which have opened options to students that are exempt…such as charter schools et al

        perhaps the state standards align with the common core, but there is a difference

        PS no child left behind started the leaving of way more children behind….the emphasis now is on hours and hours and days and weeks of  testing rather than instruction….

        common core takes this to an even crazier level…

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          “many states refused the common core nonsense..”

          You see what you did there – you shifted from local school district to state. The state may have discretion, the district doesn’t.

        2. wdf1

          MK:  and so have communities, within states,  which have opened options to students that are exempt…such as charter schools et al

          Can you identify and document a publicly funded K-12 school in California that doesn’t follow Common Core standards and testing for English Language Arts and math?

  7. Misanthrop

    The problem with Common Core isn’t the standards its the corporate development of the curriculum from companies like Pearson and McGraw Hill.

    1. wdf1

      In some cases, state standards were considered better than CC.  Massachusetts for example.  California’s were generally considered to be quite robust.  Another criticism is that many educators find that CC standards for kindergarten and first grade are questionable as being age appropriate.  Not all students mature in such a way as to be ready to read for what CC prescribes.  This by the way is where some parents find Waldorf instruction appealing; that system has a more relaxed attitude about readiness for reading & writing.  Parents also find that Montessori education is also more relaxed in this way.

      But yes, homogenizing the standards nationwide means that textbook companies can have much wider markets for individual textbooks.  And it is evidence to suggest that textbook companies have more say than local communities in determining what gets taught.

      Another issue for many parents and school staff alike is the standardized testing.  There were already strong criticisms of standardized testing with NCLB.  ESSA (successor to NCLB) didn’t do much to respond to those criticisms, and in some cases it has only been exacerbated.  It will be interesting to see what happens to the opt-out (of testing) movement.

      1. Misanthrop

        I agree especially about the part on child development. Its seems that the people developing the curriculum never heard of Piaget and his stages of development.

        1. Marina Kalugin

          there were only TWO faculty who were brought in on the nationwide development of Common Core….one immediately became a vocal critic….and not sure about the other one…..this was some years ago when I was seeing the documentation and utubes by that truly frustrated professor..who felt used and abused…..it was all a sham he claimed and then he denied any affiliation with what was put forth…..

  8. Napoleon Pig IV

    The most important qualification this finalist has is that he or she is not one of Roberson’s minions. I look forward to learning more about the finalist, and certainly also look forward to seeing the board majority (Lovenburg, Archer, and Adams, just to be clear) fade permanently away in the rear view mirror.

    1. ryankelly

      When you say “minions,” are you referring to existing DJUSD staff or administrators or teachers?

      It is all about GATE, is it not?

      There is lots of attention put on GATE and privileged students, but this community is almost silent when it comes to lack of services for struggling students and the achievement gap.  Whoever is hired, I would like them to have a background in helping the latter and focus primarily on these students.

      1. wdf1

        ryankelly:  When you say “minions,” are you referring to existing DJUSD staff or administrators or teachers?

        NPIV may have a hard time being specific, but he is referring to this.  Roberson is a very good singer and musician in his own right, so he really added a lot when he joined his minions in projects like this.

      2. Misanthrop

        Actually the board member most supportive of Gate is also the one who has prioritized addressing the achievement gap by repeatedly putting it on the agenda of the school board.

        1. wdf1

          Misanthrop:  Actually the board member most supportive of Gate is also the one who has prioritized addressing the achievement gap by repeatedly putting it on the agenda of the school board.

          I have concerns about the approach being taken, if it is conducive to being strategic in developing and advancing a district response to the “achievement gap” in 2016.  First, I actually have a problem using the term “achievement gap” because it consistently references performance (especially as found in standardized test scores) in English Language Arts and math, and not much else.  Those are two important areas of concern, but I argue probably make up no more than 20-30% of a bigger constellation of related issues.  Less frequently is the remaining 70-80% adequately addressed.

          Another criticism I put forth is that the board approach has been very segmented.  The achievement gap has been presented first at the elementary level, then the JH level, and then most recently the HS level.  There are ways in which the responses look adequate if viewed within the smaller universe of those grade levels.  But when viewed holistically, there are things not being done (adequately) at the elementary or JH level that could have a huge positive impact at the HS level.

          I don’t know if the board as a whole can see some of the patterns and opportunities that could emerge if viewed from grades K through 12.

  9. Marina Kalugin

    the CA common core standards are not quite the same thing as common core….the initiative was designed to teach to the lowest common denominator and move students lagging behind to graduate and to “college”….however, the meaning was junior college, not university…

    each state was then allowed to adopt or not adopt and so forth..

    at Lowell HS in SF< the magnet school for advanced HS students throughout SF, where even a higher % of students take and pass even a wider and larger number of AP courses than Davis HS< alumni were pulled into a controversy just last year….the school district was trying to enforce one of the tenets of common core….all students regardless of ability will be studying the “at grade level” subject..   for LHS that would mean no AP courses as ALL AP courses are above grade level at HS>   somehow the SF school board was missing that point.

    In recent years, I was learning about common core from some activist groups in CA, which I joined some decades ago when my brilliant sons were young…. in the realm  of education…  Our groups, one local PACE  Parents Advocating for Children’s Education,  mostly high UC and other local professors and educated and interested parents back in the days of fuzzy math….

    And through that activism, I ended up on CA lists of similar organizations…with persons of similar backgrounds….many were international scholars who landed in the US and were appalled at the goings on in public schools……

    In the last few years, many children of our faculty and staff have had to go to various unusual solutions to assist their children through the nightmare of common core in the Davis Schools….

    this is the tip of the iceberg which I have alluded to on various threads in recent weeks…

  10. Marina Kalugin

    sorry hit the wrong button, meant to reply and not report.. sorry..

    In Davis we have the Davis School for Independent Study….unless that mandate is now applying to them also…it has been a while, but….

    there is also the online K-12 charter school….I would bet they are not required as Charter Schools are exempt….

  11. Marina Kalugin

    once Davis built those massive apartments and so forth for lower income, the city landscape in the schools shifted very abruptly…

    special ed needs skyrocketed and many more  aides had to be hired….more and more school lunches had to be subsidized…

    interestingly for me, many of  those who cannot figure me out, and  those who still  have confusions – I will try to make it clear once again….

    GATE is on the extreme end of the special ed spectrum on the opposite side….

    Many GATE are now being identified as Aspergers…..it is all special ed and special needs and the most brilliant also often have the most challenges……

    These are the things that Deanne Quinne knew so well and so did Debbie Nichols-Poulos…..and yet, many teachers are not so highly trained in such extremes….

    and by so much of the agenda of recent years, by the mostly truly mediocre on the “school board” and the recently departed Super…..

    those scientific maxims, and mounds of scientific evidence, are truly lost on the majority of the know bests on the board and super….

    starting with the months and years of nonsense on the word GATE – AIM is so much more accurate and descriptive…..wouldn’t want anyone to feel they nor their children were not special…….gimme a break

     

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