Dr. John Bowes Identified as Finalist for Superintendent

John Bowes, Photo from the PVPUSD website
John Bowes, Photo from the PVPUSD website

On Monday, the school district released the name of Dr. John Bowes, currently the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources at the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District (PVPUSD), as their preferred candidate for the next superintendent of the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD).

On Wednesday of last week, without naming the finalist, the board sent out a press release confirming 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.”

Before that, three trustees will travel to Southern California today (Tuesday, May 31, 2016) to meet with Dr. Bowes and his colleagues.  Because three board members are traveling, the meeting must be noticed, thereby forcing the district to disclose the meeting.

Board President Madhavi Sunder said, “The Board is very pleased with the search process, which identified many strong and diverse candidates. Dr. Bowes is an exceptional candidate who also seems a perfect fit for our community.”

She continued, “He has earned accolades from teachers, staff and parents in his home district and shares the DJUSD’s commitment to excellence, inclusion, social justice and equity. He is committed to supporting each child to reach her highest potential.  The Board will use the visit to Palos Verdes Peninsula to learn first-hand more about the fine work Dr. Bowes has brought to students and employees.”

Dr. Bowes earned his Ed.D. from UCLA and his B.S. in Finance and Management from Virginia Tech. Currently the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Dr. Bowes has previously served in Los Angeles Unified School District in many capacities, including the Director of Labor Relations, elementary school principal, and K-2 bilingual teacher.  A former Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, Dr. Bowes is fluent in Spanish.

The release said, “The visit to Dr. Bowes’ school district will be an important part of affirming the selection.”

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 had “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 (LCFF) 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.

Once again, the board affirmed that its goal is to make a formal announcement and approve a contract at its regular meeting on Thursday, June 2.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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  1. Marina Kalugin

    good choice….we need someone who ran a district that is ranked BETTER than Davis….not someone who is from a district which was worse…

    the other guy was such a disaster……

    as my many friends who live and work at Stanford and the surroundings, FB, Google, Apple and so forth….professors and brilliant techies…..when I mentioned the idiocy of what happened to GATE, their comments were “that doesn’t make sense for a college town”.

    If you look at the school board makeup and the prior super, what happens is what makes sense……except for Sundher, the others are/were truly clueless on many fronts…….  fortunately the “leader” left and now we have a true chance to start over with someone way better..

    do I care what color/gender/ or the other buzz words the person is?    NAHHHHHHHH

    1. wdf1

      MK:  good choice….we need someone who ran a district that is ranked BETTER than Davis….not someone who is from a district which was worse…

      Ranking based on what?  Standardized test scores?  Those correlate to income level of the families in the district.  Palos Verdes is a more affluent district than Davis on a per capita basis.

      With this in mind, I would take your comment to imply that you wouldn’t want someone from a district less affluent than Davis.

      Before working for Palos Verdes, he worked in LA Unified, overall a less affluent district than Davis on a per capita basis.

      1. quielo

        Affluence is an important indicator though education level of parents is also important. Usually they are one and the same though in Davis there is a divergence. Given the educational accomplishments of Davis parents our schools should have scores no less than PV.

        The level of expectation of the parents is the key variable.

        1. wdf1

          Except that Davis has more “achievement gap” students — more students from lower income families, from lower levels parent education, English language learners, who are often Latinos.  That reduces what would otherwise be a “steller” average.

          If you take out those students, Davis probably scores closer to where PV scores.  This is also what happens when you compare U.S. standardized test scores with those of other nations.  The U.S. has more childhood poverty than almost all industrialized nations, thus the U.S. test score average doesn’t look great.

  2. quielo

    Having recently moved from SoCal I am very aware of the PV Schools. They are very highly regarded and have a mix of white and Asian kids primarily. Interestingly they have two high schools, one uses traditional periods and the other uses block scheduling. I feel guardedly optimistic having someone from a good district bodes well for our direction.

  3. MrsW

    Madhavi Sunder states “…[Bowes]…shares the DJUSD’s commitment to excellence, inclusion, social justice and equity.”

    I hope she means what she says.   And I wonder how she and he expect to express their commitment.

      1. MrsW

        That’s interesting.  When my children entered DJUSD a number of years ago, “excellence” was a higher priority to me than it is now.  Now that we’re on the other end, looking back, I think DJUSD has less influence on academic accomplishments than I had assumed and much more influence on social emotional development than DJUSD acknowledges–a realization that was shocking to me, since DJUSD is a Public school system.  Now, I place a much higher value on school experiences that contribute to a child’s character and citizenship.  I trust intelligence will find its way. I think peace needs to be modeled and taught.

        1. Marina Kalugin

          it may or may not be….not many have the ability to really see what is going on….

          the most brilliant who are NOT challenged enough are the anorexics, bulemics, and heroin users…….THEY are the dropouts…they are the ones who don’t fit in…

          that is why the idiots on the board who crashed the GATE program are truly have their heads up where the sun don’t shine….

          the “high-achievers’ are dying under common core….and the parents who can afford it home school, do DSIS, do Peregrine…..ST Francis ….Jesuit…and the list goes on…

          boarding schools, and so forth……

          Exeter in NH…and so on …



        2. quielo

          Most kids have a desire to learn. We tried LAUSD at one time but the lack of challenge bored my kids and they did not want to go to school. When I spoke to admin about the curriculum I was told that the pace of learning was district wide and had to be slow to accommodate some students with lots of mandated “reteaching”.   I moved to a faster paced district and my kids loved it. Davis is somewhere in the middle.



        3. Marina Kalugin

          has anyone noticed that the Reply buttons are now sabotaged…….go off to spam sites…..I mean “hijacked”……I believe that is the techie word…

  4. Marina Kalugin

    yes….and some want MORE achievement gap students….and Nishi WILL bring more….

    it is always about excellence and yet the developers don’t care ….they push crap over quality….

    all those lovely apartments on Fifth and also on Valdora and so forth….

    and near New Harmony….and so forth…

    the developers CHEAP fix for the 25% low income idea…..and thus we have WAY more achievement gappers….they come with those low income apartments…

    they are LITERALLY bussed into Davis…….truly….open your eyes and see where the developers advertise…..

    some of the newbies to town  buy the pricey crap which Fouts and others of the TRULY highly expensive and overpriced garbage……

    and they they get on the School Board….now that it doesn’t matter how truly ignorant one is…..anyone can be on the School Board…

    NO ON NISHI>>>>>>>.NO on A……push back on the idiots…..and those with vested interests and the money in the pockets…


  5. Marina Kalugin

    my sons could not qualify for the low-income apartments…they were students and excluded….

    they could not afford ANY of the “low income” houses to purchase…..

    what garbage and what overpriced junk everywhere….

    on their meager earnings after not finding any work in Davis… that would be suitable for their brilliant engineering with HONOR degrees…..

    the brilliant 30 somethings who want to live in Davis cannot…..



    1. Misanthrop

      It seems you rail against development and then lament that your own kids can’t find a place to live here they can afford. Did you ever stop to think that maybe these issues are related?

  6. Marina Kalugin

    PS>   even the bright students go under under “common core”…add in the language barrier and so forth, truly doesn’t anyone here get it yet?

    I wanted to move to Baja as the US under Obama, and before that BUSH dynasty…..truly is NOT what it used to be…

    I used to speak portuguese and english was my third language….

    will someone from a traditional culture, where even the lowliest of the low, actually learn some math….understand common core?

  7. Marina Kalugin

    and, here is another shocker….guess what the LEADING drug of choice at DHS and most other well off areas is?     HEROIN>>>>sorry to yell for those mealy mouth white males who think I am a little loud….

    and has been for decades……………..

  8. Marina Kalugin

    I too would love an ignore button….if me, I would ignore the NISHI>….

    but I would like some other buttons like WTF?  or WTH?

    how about you’re kidding RIGHT?

    or….go away….

  9. Misanthrop

    I’m hopeful about the new Superintendent pick. On his Linked-in page you can find a pretty impressive CV. But the big question remains, can he get the job done?

    One thing that makes me hopeful is that he worked in HR during part of his career in LAUSD. He was there before Deasy but continued moving up even under that authoritarian and punitive Eli Broad disaster. DJUSD needs a top to bottom evaluation of who is getting the job done and who needs to improve or be held accountable. I hope he starts by figuring out who at the top of the hierarchy is competent and then moving down to the site level and the Principals. Its been a long time since the district has had a Super who knew how to get the best out of good people and hold those who weren’t up to the task accountable. Since this hasn’t happened at the top it also hasn’t happened all the way down. At least it hasn’t happened based on competence as we saw when the volleyball coach was disciplined and the athletic director resigned in disgust.

    If we hold those at the top accountable we can begin to have them hold those below accountable as well. We don’t need an LAUSD style rubber room but we need to get people who can follow the rules on due process into the classrooms and evaluate who needs to improve their performance or find work that is more compatible with their skill set. We often hear about problem teachers  in the district but we never know if the complaints make it into the teacher evaluations because of privacy issues. But if I was advising the new Super I would tell him to look through the personnel files to see if the district and the site administrators are holding their teachers accountable. If they are not, and, I suspect that many aren’t, then that needs to change ASAP.

    1. wdf1

      Misanthrop:  We don’t need an LAUSD style rubber room…

      The rubber room of public school lore is with the NYC Dept. of Ed.

      There is plenty of criticism available for John Deasy, but the rubber room isn’t his innovation.  I am unaware of any California school district having a rubber room, though I have heard of classroom teachers getting moved to desk jobs in the district office. If you know otherwise, please share.

      1. Misanthrop



        Two articles about LAUSD’s rubber rooms. The timeline coincides with Dr. Bowes service as Assistant Chief Human Resource Officer, LAUSD. From his own Linked-In description of that position it is reasonable to conclude that Dr. Bowes was involved in the assignment of people to these facilities. I’m not suggesting that he was responsible for the existence of the rubber rooms in LAUSD or the policy that created them. Still we shouldn’t pretend that such facilities didn’t exist.

        My hope is that his experience in Human Resources will allow him to lead our district and improve the performance of individuals at all levels of the institution that aren’t performing at acceptable levels, First by making clear where the district needs to go and the expectations for those in the organization, then by inspiring our good people to get us there while helping to bring those along who need some help, but, for those that cannot or will not get the job done, and in my opinion there are some, hopefully because of his experience  he knows how to move these individuals into positions where they can be successful or at least do no harm. It has been a long time since DJUSD had a leader who knew how to shake things up if he had to. I sincerely hope Dr. Bowes is that leader.

        1. wdf1

          Point taken.  Thanks for clarifying.  I did say that I was unaware of rubber rooms in California districts, though I was aware of them outside of California.  Now I know.

    2. wdf1

      On paper, he is a very attractive candidate.  Has worked in a high-performing district that a number of folks in Davis would have our schools aspire to, yet has experience working with presumably low-SES latino students as a teacher, not unlike what could be found in DJUSD.  Has classroom experience, a background in finance, and worked in human resources, as you mention.  I hope he’s just as qualified in business relations and people skills.

      Here are some news stories about Palos Verdes schools that mention John Bowes in action:

      30 Jan. 2014:  Mira Catalina Elementary in Rancho Palos Verdes gets third new principal this school year

      7 August 2014:  Palos Verdes schools hire new superintendent, keep old one on staff

      27 March 2015:  Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District to shuffle administrators in restructuring plan


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