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School board plans to hammer out more superintendent criteria

Mike Szymanski | November 30, 2015

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Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 9.57.48 AMThe LA Unified school board is holding a special meeting tomorrow to fine-tune the one-page list of “Desired Characteristics” for the superintendent that they hope to hire by the end of the year.

The open session section is planned for 9 a.m. and will have representatives of the search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates reviewing the Leadership Profile Report. Then, the board plans to head into a closed session to discuss the criteria further.

Two committee meetings scheduled to follow have been cancelled.

Hank Gmitro, president of the search firm, said the Desired Characteristics is merely a guideline for the board members to refer to when interviewing candidates. It also could be a reference point for board members for questions that could be posed to the candidates.

Although it seems as if the school board is foot-dragging over the minutiae of the characteristics, the search firm is well into the recruitment phase of the search, taking applications and seeking potential candidates.

By now, however, according to the firm’s own timeline, the school board should be in the third phase of the process, interviewing the candidates for the first and second rounds of interviews. That’s supposed to happen “late November through mid-December.”

Although the school board has yet to finalize a list of characteristics, the search firm posted its latest version (Draft 3) of the Desired Characteristics on its website, where the firm is also taking applications.

Discussions about the criteria among the seven elected board members have included whether mentioning experience in an “urban environment” limits their choices, and if finding someone who has experience in a district of “similar complexity” is even possible because LA Unified is the second largest school district in the country.

Among the slight changes between the second and third drafts of the characteristics is the insertion of the the phrase “assisting the Board in eradicating bias and eliminating deficit thinking,” which board member  Mónica Garcia proposed.

Board President Steve Zimmer pointed out that the criteria doesn’t exclude any candidates and merely serves as a blueprint of wishes compiled by the students, parents, staff and community members gathered from the two weeks of interviews and focus groups.

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