SUHSD searches for new superintendent with community input


Robin Linares

As the search for a superintendent continues in the Sequoia Union High School District, the community is giving input to help aid the next steps.

The current “Phase 2” of the superintendent search is well underway, as The Board of Trustees starts receiving input from administrators, teachers, students, and various community members.

The Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) is using the firm Leadership Associates, a leadership search firm that is aiding the district in finding its next superintendent. The firm has created multiple phases to find the superintendent and the expected timeline ultimately

The second phase consisted of getting input from various community members. One way was through organized input sessions with various groups like the district’s principals, the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), and student clubs like Pacific Islander Club, Black Student Union, and Dream Club, all of which voiced their perspectives.

The district also conducted an online survey which concluded on Jan. 22.  The survey encouraged responses from parents, teachers, students, administrators, and the wider community to get a better sense of what they valued for the position. 

One of the survey responses came from Addison Gaitán, an English teacher at Carlmont. A few of the ideas that she valued were solid communication from the superintendent and a focus on social justice within the district’s community.

“[I would want] someone who is a strong communicator, transparent, and experienced. I would love to see a superintendent who has experience in a comparable district and has a clear focus on social justice and equity, particularly transforming schools to better serve all students,” Gaitán said.

District equity is a major focus that the SUHSD is looking at when searching for a new superintendent. SUSHD Board member Alan Sarver noted its importance and recognized it as a big priority for the district.

“[Leadership Associates] recognized that Equity was the leading edge of SUHSD focus and that we would require that focus in our search,” Sarver said. “Leadership Associates have already offered multiple channels through which they will maximize opportunities and offer encouragement for the greatest number of qualified candidates of diverse backgrounds to apply. The Board has confirmed that this is a critical priority for us in the search process.”

Once in the position, the superintendent would hopefully find ways to make the district more equitable. Carlmont Principal Ralph Crame explained how the superintendent could improve equity at the administrative level.

“It’s important to look at our current practices and policies, and our procedures to make sure that there isn’t any institutional bias that is negatively affecting one group of students over another,” Crame said. “A superintendent can be instrumental in that by [being] willing to see everything from a fresh set of eyes, getting input from several people and different areas, and then making the necessary changes to level the playing field.”

Beyond looking at equity, Crame had other ideas of qualities needed in a superintendent, which he voiced during one of the input sessions. Some of his values also included communication skills, transparency, and making sure the superintendent is aware of this community’s unique challenges. 

“I think it’s important that the superintendent has a clear vision on what the district needs and what the students need to be successful within that district,” Crame said. “Transparency is another thing that I think is important. It shouldn’t be a feeling that the superintendent is saying one thing and then something else happens with no reasons with no articulation as to why.”

It would be nice to have someone that you can have a conversation with”

— Danielle Courtney

Some students also had opinions on important qualities for the superintendent. Danielle Courtney, a junior, noted that she would value more engagement between the superintendent and the students. 

“I would want them to have a more sociable job since some teachers and administrators especially are kind of weird to talk to [and] seem kind of distant. It feels like they are only talking to you if they have to, so it would be nice to have someone that you can have a conversation with,” Courtney said. 

As the surveys and input sessions concluded, the input data would be reviewed. Sarver explained the next immediate steps.

“The Leadership team [from Leadership Associates] will organize all of the data, and present summaries in a format most useful for the Board,” Sarver said.

The Board of Trustees will use the summaries of the data gained to create the superintendent’s position description. Beyond the position description, there will be reviews of candidates, final interviews, and finally, the new superintendent, who will be introduced later in the spring, according to Sarver.

For whoever the next superintendent may be, Crame gives this message.

“The Sequoia Union High School District is a phenomenal place to work. We have an amazing group of teachers. We have an amazing group of administrators, and I think that with the right fit, the sky’s the limit for this district,” Crame said.