SDUHSD Superintendent Eric Dill accepts position in Bay Area

Eric Dill
Eric Dill Courtesy

San Dieguito Union School District Superintendent Eric Dill will be leaving the district at the end of the school year for a new post as the “chief business official” at the Santa Clara Unified School District in the Bay Area. Dill has worked at San Dieguito since 2001 and has been the superintendent since the 2016-17 school year—his resignation will be official July 1.

“After nearly 17 years at San Dieguito Union High School District, I have decided it is time to move on to new challenges and opportunities,” wrote Dill in a message to the SDUHSD team. “Throughout my career at San Dieguito from business services through the last two years as superintendent, my goal has always been to support students and teaching. By joining Santa Clara Unified, I’ll be able to widen that focus to promote success in a broader community of ages, abilities, and needs.”

In his message, Dill said he was grateful for the experiences, the opportunities, the colleagues and the friends he made during his time with the district.

“I understand how incredibly fortunate I have been to serve you and this amazing community,” Dill wrote. “This truly is a special place, not because of the high achievement for which we are known, but for the people who make it possible.”

In a message to the community, SDUHSD President Beth Hergesheimer thanked Dill for his service to the community and wished him well in his new role.

“While this leaves a vacancy at the top, our incredible team of teachers and certificated staff, the classified staff, and administrators remain committed to our students and families,” Hergesheimer wrote. “We will work together to ensure a smooth start to the next school year and continue to provide a world-class education for students of all abilities.”

Dill joined the district in 2001 and had served as the executive director of business services and director of risk management before being promoted to associate superintendent of business services in 2010.

He served as the interim superintendent following the departure of previous superintendent Rick Schmitt in July 2016.

In May 2016, the district hired the superintendent search firm of Leadership Associates to conduct a search for Schmitt’s replacement and the SDUHSD board unanimously decided to hire one candidate but then changed its mind and the search was put on hold. Dill was given the role permanently in January 2017, with then-President Amy Herman citing his leadership during the interim period, his financial expertise and the relationships he had formed within the district and community.

The vote to appoint Dill was not unanimous— it was a 3-2 vote with trustees Mo Muir and John Salazar voting in opposition. Salazar and Muir questioned the fact that Dill did not have experience as a teacher or administrator and disagreed with Dill on several issues, including a 12.5 percent raise for teachers and budget concerns.

Salazar said he was not surprised to hear of Dill’s resignation.

“I look forward to hiring a new superintendent, hopefully from outside our district who will be able to be an innovative leader who will move the district to fiscal solvency and will put our students’ needs ahead of all other special interests,” Salazar said.

The board held a special meeting on May 29 to discuss short and long-term steps to appoint the next superintendent.

During public comment parents Lea Wolf and Rita McDonald shared their suggestions that the community be involved in the search process as much as possible as they look for a strong new superintendent who leads with integrity, “It’s a big job, dealing with parents like us,” Wolf said.

Canyon Crest Academy parent Kristy Laliotis sad she was sad to hear that Dill was leaving but said she was not surprised given the current climate and the “personal attacks” that have been made against him. She requested that the board members do whatever they can to support the new superintendent so that they don’t again lose two superintendents in two years.

“I’d love to see someone here for a long term. We’re not considered a desirable district and that’s very unfortunate,” Laliotis said, requesting that the board work together as a team to figure out how to change that perception.

CCA parent Matt Weil echoed Laliotis’ request noting that with the “strife and division” within the district, they are going to have a hard time attracting a quality candidate to replace Dill.

“You all can together speak with a single voice and say this is a district where work can get done, where a superintendent can be supported,” Weil said. “I don’t know who the new superintendent is going to be but I do know that he or she is watching you now.”

Torrey Pines High School parent Wendy Gumb wished Dill luck—she said he is a very good chief business official and thinks he will do very well in Santa Clara.

“I think before you set up another superintendent to fail that you guys sit and determine the vision for this school district going forward,” Gumb told the board. “That’s your job as a school board to set the vision for the district and to put guidance down to the superintendent so he can guide the staff.”

After meeting in closed session, Hergesheimer said the board has directed staff to look for a local qualified candidate to serve as interim superintendent as they move as quickly as possible on sending out a request for proposal on potential superintendent search firms. The board’s next meeting will be held June 7.