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In Part 1 we examined the existing credentials of Cindy Marten

In Part 2A, we looked at the potential motivations and justifications for the SDUSD Board of Education members (Beiser, Evans, Foster, Barrera, Barnett) to unanimously decide to select Cindy Marten without a shred of SDUSD Community collaboration and without many, if not all, of the credentials required to adequately lead the 2nd largest school district in California.

In Part 2B we will look at the potential motivations and justifications for why Marten would even consider accepting a position in a secretive process without the required credentials and without any review by the groups she was supposed to ultimately lead…the Parents, Teachers, Students, Administrators, Site Staff and Communities

The best way to evaluate Marten’s decision is with her own words…supplied by her interview with Scott Lewis on June 2, 2013: http://voiceofsandiego.org/2013/06/02/the-full-cindy-marten-interview-new-schools-chiefs-whole-take-on-her-big-task/

Let’s stipulate in advance (as described in part 1- https://districtdeeds.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/anatomy-of-a-failed-superintendent-part-1-credentials-anyone/) that Marten had never led an operation larger than an Elementary School and that, although there is a certain degree of autonomy at school site, it is severely restricted within at least 3-4 levels of oversight up to and including the BOE.  In other words, Marten was used to taking orders…not giving them, at least not to the scale of 13,000 employees.

By her own words:

“I was literally at my desk, I had been, it was a Tuesday morning, I had been in three classrooms that morning. I came back to my office and had a meeting with a group of teachers and we’re having a conversation and the phone rang and I answered the phone.

It was a school board member and they asked me the question if I was willing to be considered to be the next superintendent…they said ‘Mr. Kowba is considering retiring. Would you be willing to be considered to be the next superintendent.’

And I didn’t quite get what they were saying because the beginning of the conversation was ‘Mr. Kowba is retiring.’ I’m thinking ‘Oh, we’re going to activate the search committee because three years ago, when we were searching for a new superintendent, the board put together a panel, a search committee to select the next superintendent. And I was on that search committee.

So I’m thinking oh, we’re going to put the search committee together again so yeah, I would love to participate. So I said something like ‘I’d love to participate in this process of selecting the next best candidate.’ … and they said ‘No, we’re not talking about that.’

And I said ‘OK, what are we talking about?’”

Obviously, by her own words, Marten DID NOT HAVE A CLUE that she was even IN THE BALLPARK of being a candidate for SDUSD Superintendent, let alone  the “Chosen One”.

As mentioned earlier…Marten’s experience is as an “order taker” not an “order giver”  Once she clearly understood the SDUSD BOE intent, her instinct, as a successful Elementary Principal was to ask the key question:

‘How did you do that, you haven’t talked to the community yet? You can’t make a decision on what the children of San Diego need without wide community engagement.’

Her marching orders from the SDUSD BOE followed:

‘Well, we’ve made our decision and we’re going to announce it tomorrow night at a press conference at 7:30 p.m. and said you better go get a haircut.’

Given this narrative, directly from the mouth of Cindy Marten, she was faced with…

The Decision

Marten’s initial instincts were sound, based on being on the receiving end of unilateral, autocratic edicts from previous Boards and Superintendents including Alan Bersin..the author of the infamous and reviled “Blueprint for Education” jammed down the throat of every Teacher, Parent, Student, Administrator, Staff and Community in the SDUSD.

She knew at that moment that open collaboration with the Stakeholders is critical.

However some of her closet advisors, including her current Chief of Staff, Staci Monreal, were also key Central District Office administrators previously sanctioned and appointed by Bersin.

In addition, through consistent politicking via breakfasts and communication with BOE Members, Marten knew this 2013 BOE was different.  They understood the absolute power and political advantage they held through unity that earlier, more altruistic boards with “maverick” board members did not.

This BOE knew an underquallified, overpaid Superintendent was perfect.

So, given the option of:

  • Doubling her salary
  • Gaining national visibility
  • Jumping over hundreds of more qualified Senior Administrators to Superintendent.


Declining the position and eliminating any chance at future advancement to a senior District, County, State or Federal Education position

She took the path that many of us might choose in the same situation:

Take Orders and Take the Money with no more questions asked…despite our gut feelings.

Did Marten have many other compelling personal reasons for jumping at the opportunity?


Like all of us…financial security…ego…legacy…family needs.

In many ways it is a travesty that the current BOE would put this capable Elementary School Principal in the position of choosing career over the future of over 130,000 students.

As a parent of a Student in the SDUSD – the emotion that comes to mind is not anger…or dislike…or disappointment…in Cindy Marten.

It is sadness that she betrayed her instincts and better judgment to the detriment of thousands of students and was forced to assume a role she knew that she was not qualified for…and the sadness for all the SDUSD children forced to bear the negative educational consequences of her Decision.

Next: Anatomy of a Failed Superintendent – Part 3 – Repercussions