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This coming week, it is highly likely that the United States Senate will ignore all the evidence of corruption and incompetence and vote to approve San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Superintendent Cindy Marten to serve as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education.

Once Marten is finally gone, interim Superintendent Lamont Jackson will be taking over until December, 2021 when, according to the SDUSD timeline, a new Superintendent will be appointed by the Board of Education.

We are excited about leaving the incompetent and corrupt Marten in the past but committed to not allowing the corrupt Board of Education to continue her destructive practices through a new proxy interim or permanent Superintendent puppet in the future.

In that spirit, this week we are posting an article that outlines best practices in the selection of a new school district Superintendent. We have selected the most relevant portions of the article for this post but District Deeds strongly urges our readers to click on the titles (in red) and read the full articles for themselves.

One big point to remember when reading the following information and observing the SDUSD Superintendent selection process:

Many of the steps defined in the SDUSD selection process mirror the best practices in this week’s article.  It’s important for all Stakeholders to remember that perfect hiring protocols and best practices are only as good as the ethics of the individuals actually making the hiring criteria and selection decisions…in this case, the SDUSD Board of Education led by corrupt Trustee Richard “Tricky Dick” Barrera and their hand picked “community” cronies.  We will address that issue in our analysis below.

As we move into the eras of our interim (2nd) and possibly third Superintendent in our blog existence, we revisit  our call to action for all SDUSD Stakeholders almost 8 years ago in The Birth of District Deeds:

Let’s get this party started!!!




Superintendent Searches Public or Confidential?

The Case for an Open Search process

Board of education members come and go, but the community remains.

PDF: Superintendent Searches Public or Confidential?


Wise candidates for a superintendent position, as well as the dedicated board members involved in fulfilling this important duty, understand this and therefore want the public to be part of the superintendent search process.

In my 20 years as a search consultant to boards of education, I’ve witnessed dozens of superintendents find a comfortable match with a new school district when their appointment by the board has followed a largely open and public search process.

Sadly, I’ve also seen the superintendent-board relationship turn sour and then debilitating, not long after the completion of a search that’s largely excluded meaningful public involvement.

Some school board members, owing to their election by the community, believe they must make all decisions, start to finish, effectively leaving the community in the dark about the affairs of the school district. This type of governance puts the district in a “no need to know” mode, leading to the board’s decision to conduct its search for a new superintendent in secret or mostly behind closed doors. These actions promote an arrogant “we know best” attitude in the wider community by the board.

In taking the stance that it knows the community’s needs better than anyone else, the board forgets that the community owns the schools and should be involved and kept fully informed regarding its investment.


A District’s Profile
The community has a vested interest in the outcome of a superintendent search, and it is in the interest of both the public and the candidate to keep the community well informed of the status of the search and the leading applicants for the job. A closed-door process can lead to harmful gossip and misinformation of what is being done.


When public comments are solicited, the school board, the candidate and the contributor must know that the input received is recorded in an honest and straightforward manner and not just as the recorder desires it to be. This can be accomplished by the contributor being able to see exactly what the recorder has written. All comments (without identification of the individual or group attached) should be made public, organized by individual comments and frequency of similar comments. At the end of the comment period, a summary ought to be incorporated into the community’s profile.

The thoroughness of this process ensures the candidates that the input is real, not just a checklist used to generate an overall idea of what the school board desires in its next district leader.

Publicizing Names
Candidates for the super intendency should be aware their names and credentials are held in confidence (if they so desire) until the school board determines which candidates are to be interviewed. The candidates chosen for interviews in the open search process are informed their names and credentials are going to be made public.

Candidates who are hesitant about their names being made public once the board schedules a job interview should not apply for the position. The reason most candidates give for wanting to withhold their identity from public view is they don’t want their current board of education to know they are applying elsewhere. I always ask each candidate if it would be a problem if his or her name is made public once the board chooses those it wants to interview. If the answer is affirmative, then I suggest the candidate withdraw from a search that’s being conducted as an open process.


Public Interviews
Public interviews are more of a concern for board members than anyone else. Often school board members feel intimidated or uncomfortable interviewing someone they don’t know in open view of the public and the news media. They generally don’t like criticism, and they believe the media publishes only the negative aspects of any board activity.

Before the board interviews its superintendent finalists, it should participate in an in-service session to discuss the questions to be asked by the board members and the guidelines to be used during the interview process.

The board must be professional in its procedures and must know the protocol (legally appropriate questions and the number of questions) when soliciting questions for the candidate from the public. The board president should handle all questions from the public, which should be submitted in written form. On-the-spot verbal questions should never be allowed from the public to avoid inappropriate, illegal or embarrassing questions.


Public interviews allow the community, parents, district employees and students to listen to the candidate’s answers to the board’s questions and to gauge the candidate’s interest in and commitment to the district. The public must understand that the school board makes the final selection of the superintendent and the board seeks comments, not endorsements, from the various stakeholders.

In the open search process, the community will be informed of the names of the candidate finalists, their current positions and districts, time, date and location of each interview. Candidates should visit the school district before the interview. A central-office employee should be responsible for setting up a schedule as requested by the candidate that includes a tour of the district, the opportunity to review key materials — budget, curriculum, and board minutes — and meeting with various groups.

Members of the public and school district need to be involved in the final stages of the search as the interaction gives the candidate finalists a peek at the makeup of the community and staff. The impression the stakeholders make can be a turning point for the candidate in determining the fit.

The candidate needs to know as much about the district as possible before the interview to determine whether the position is a good fit. The pre-interview visit requires the candidate to interact with various groups in different settings.

The last step, of course, is the interview with the board of education. Candidates should know something about the background of board members and the working relationship with the current superintendent. Once the interview is completed, the candidate can determine if the post is a reasonable fit with his or her needs. If the fit isn’t favorable, the candidate needs to respectfully withdraw before the board continues any debate regarding his/her candidacy.


Site Visits
Once the interviews have concluded, the school board recesses, which allows individual board members to ask those individuals who have attended the interviews their opinions regarding the candidates. This activity enables a transfer of feedback from the community, district staff and students to the board. Board members should get as much information about what the community wants as they possibly can, and it is an excellent process for all persons desiring involvement. Once again, it ensures the community, employees and students that their individual opinions, thoughts and ideas are valued and appreciated.

When the board returns to its public session, deliberations should be open, honest and, for the most part, positive. The person facilitating the search — whether a professional consultant or a member of the community — should assist board members in keeping their public remarks from becoming negative assessments of individual candidates. The latter serve no valuable purpose other than to fuel lively news media coverage.


Sunshine or Darkness?
Having the community, parents, school district employees and students involved in the superintendent search process provides support for the board of education, leads to more favorable public perceptions and builds trust. For the candidate, the open process lends a support base from the start in the new position.

Searches conducted behind closed doors promote the new superintendent as the board’s superintendent, not the community’s superintendent. As a friend shared with me a long time ago: “Doing a search in a closed atmosphere is not good public policy and is like dancing in the dark.” When a search is played out in an open atmosphere, the community, the district staff and students feel appreciated to have been consulted in the selection process and inclined to commit themselves to getting the new superintendent off to a successful start. Success at the top tends to spread throughout the school district as a whole.

In every superintendent search I conduct for a school board, I remind the members and the finalists of this: The candidate must fit the community. The candidate must not expect the community to fit him or her.

District Deeds Analysis:

This article presents a gold standard of how a School District Superintendent search should be handled.

The last “Sunshine or Darkness” segment of the article says it all.  The disastrous selection of incompetent, unqualified Superintendent Cindy Marten epitomized the characterization provided above:

Searches conducted behind closed doors promote the new superintendent as the board’s superintendent, not the community’s superintendent.

The corruption in the SDUSD School Board runs deep and Stakeholder mistrust after the closed appointment of Marten is palpable.  The stacking of Board appointed political cronies on the so-called “Selection Committee” has engendered even more widespread mistrust.

The Barrera con job has already begun.

The naming of grossly unqualified Lamont Jackson as interim Superintendent has signaled the direction commanded by Tricky Dick:

A puppet superintendent that will do his political bidding in union contract negotiations and other self-serving financial activities.

In the coming weeks District Deeds will tracking the Superintendent selection process and comparing it with the best practice principles from this article.  As usual with everything related to the SDUSD, we will only believe the openness of the selection process when we actually see it.

We WON”T be following the Barrera direction…

We WON’T be trusting anything Barrera or his crony “Selection Committee” say!

We WON”T be putting on our mask!

Now for our quote of the week dedicated to Interim Superintendent Lamont Jackson who helped improperly remove many highly qualified Principals and others under Marten in his SDUSD tenure:

“I really dislike the hiring managers that did not disclose the known toxicity of their hazardous workplaces to me.” ― Steven Magee 


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