SAUSD update

Our readers may recall that in the wake of Santa Ana Unified School District Superintendent Al Mijares’ abrupt departure, a superintendent search has been ongoing. My sources are telling me that the search has been, thus far, very limited in scope. That seems insane given that SAUSD is the fifth largest school district in the state.

Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, perhaps the most prominent Mijares supporter, recently ripped the district by saying, at a forum, that it is the worst in the state. SAUSD board member Sal Tinajero, who is running against a Pulido puppet, countered by saying that there has been a lot of progress – that test scores in fact have doubled in the last few years. The truth lies somewhere in between their statements. Clearly we need to continue to improve – and we need a superintendent who has experience with turning around troubled districts. I always felt that Mijares was over his head. We cannot go through that again.

It is obviously very important to our community that the search be widened in scope. There also needs to be significant outreach to the community regarding the search. It has been reported that 20 to 24 people have called and expressed an interest in the superintendent position. The majority are from California with a few from the southwest and midwest.

The Los Angeles Unified School District just hired a new superintendent who has no experience at all in education. I hope that doesn’t happen here in Santa Ana. This job is too important to hand off to anyone who has no experience in public education.

My sources also tell me that the interim SAUSD superintendent, Jane Russo is very agreeable these days and perhaps public pressure could result in more open search and ultimately a community wide meeting to meet the candidates. You can contact her online at this link.

All of my children are enrolled in SAUSD schools, except my three-year-old who is in a private preschool. This is of great importance to me. Please take the time to contact Russo and ask her to widen the search and to keep us informed. We are running out of time – SAUSD documents I have seen indicate that the semi-finalists are to be interviewed between now and November. Let’s make sure that the semi-finalists are worth interviewing.

On a related note, if Tinajero wins in November, and leaves the SAUSD school board for the city council, there will be another opening on the board. I am hearing that Roman Reyna, Armando De La Libertad, and Sergio Verino are on the short list to replace Tinajero. I believe that we need to replace Tinajero with a candidate who has extensive education and experience. It would not hurt to select someone who has children enrolled in the district. My preference would be to go with De La Libertad over Reyna and Verino. I don’t believe that the latter options are sufficiently qualified. De La Libertad is a college graduate, and his wife used to work for the district.

My preference would be for an appointment to fill the Tinajero spot on the board. I don’t think holding a special election is a cost-effective measure. It would be a huge expense. Right now we need to concentrate our resources on education – not politics. Hopefully the current members of the school board will be able to come to an agreement – but I am not going to hold my breath.

I don’t trust Rob Richardson, as he is a Pulido acolyte and as such will probably have an agenda driven by the same mayor who stuck with Mijares for so long and who found it reasonable to close our libraries and cancel the bookmobile service. Rosie Avila seems to be fixated on social issues, including abortion, which is alarming given that the district has so many other more pressing problems. I don’t expect that Audrey Noji will still be on the school board come November 7. And I don’t think that John Palacio and incoming school board member Cecilia Aguinaga will be able to develop a consensus with Richardson and Avila. If there is a special election, will De La Libertad even be insterested – given the strenous primary he just went through in June? I doubt it. So we are looking at Reyna and Verino. Hopefully it won’t come to that.

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.