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Search continues for San Dieguito Union High School District’s next leader

The San Dieguito Union High School District’s superintendent search firm was at work last week gathering input from staff as well as parents at two community forums.

Community forums were held at Canyon Crest Academy and San Dieguito High School Academy on June 2.

Leadership Associates was soliciting feedback as to the characteristics and qualities of the district’s next new leader as well as what parents perceive are the district’s strengths and challenges. Those who were unable to attend the forums can take a survey on the district website on sduhsd.net. The survey will close on June 13.

Six parents attended the forum at San Dieguito with Leadership Associates’ David Verdugo and Marc Ecker. Verdugo said Leadership went through the same process with SDUHSD three years ago during its superintendent search and at that time came up with the desired characteristics of visibility, approachability, responsiveness to the educational needs of a diverse population and an understanding of academic excellence.

Strengths of the district the parents expressed included its excellent teachers, course choice, a big emphasis on high achievers and on college and after high school opportunities. One challenge presented was a disparity between north and south district schools.

Many of the parents at San Dieguito session expressed concerns about the district’s special education program. They stressed the importance of a leader who is aware, engaged and knowledgeable about students with special needs and who ensures that those students have the same access to a great education as general education students.

“Special education concerns have come out of every stakeholder group,” Verdugo affirmed.

A challenge of the district the parents shared is the very divided board that has “frustrated parents with their lack of cooperation” as they are split 3-2 on almost every decision.

Ecker said while a split board does present a challenge, “we’re richer when we come to the table with different ideas and that’s OK as long as one idea is the same and that’s that we’re here for the children,” he said.

In response to the challenge of a split board Ecker said they would look for a leader who is politically astute, has good management skills and is a good communicator and collaborator.

The plan is for Leadership Associates to have candidates to recommend for the post by the end of August so the board will be in the position to name a new superintendent by September.