A grassroots association of parents, community members, and education advocates have announced the formation of a new group called LEAD (Leadership • Effectiveness • Accountability • Direction), committed to bringing about a new era of leadership in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD). LEAD has formed to help the District develop a higher standard of accountability, openness, and effectiveness.
LEAD intends to support SMMUSD by working together in a nurturing environment to help students be visionary, versatile thinkers; resourceful life-long learners; effective multilingual communicators and global citizens. LEAD pledges to be a constructively critical and solution-based organization.
LEAD is also committed to supporting candidates for School Board who share its vision and who embody bold and effective leadership, transparent decision-making, and accountability.
In announcing LEAD’s formation, co-chair Laurie Lieberman stated: “What brings us together is a shared commitment to outstanding public schools and a growing concern that our District needs more effective leadership, a higher degree of transparency in its decision-making process, and a more responsive ear to parents in the community. The goal of LEAD is to support a new leadership model that embraces these principles.”
“The past several years have presented a variety of issues that have diverted the attention of our District leadership and have called into question whether we are as prepared as we need to be to succeed in our District’s ongoing mission of excellence in education. The handling of significant issues — from fiscal management to special education practices — has shed light on an organization that is in need of more clear and proactive leadership” added co-chair Debbie Mulvaney. “There has never been a more critical time to tackle our District’s issues head-on before they reach the crisis stage. We believe District leaders can greatly benefit from a more open discussion with the members of the community they serve.”
LEAD includes leaders from diverse segments of the School District community – PTSA, SMMUSD task force and committees, community non-profit organizations, financial experts, childcare advocates, special education parents, and the private business sector. LEAD will be an organization open to all who want to join in community forums or take part in their advocacy work.
Given the need for a new School District Superintendent, LEAD is prepared to take a proactive role in the search to fill that position. It appears the SMMUSD will be hiring an interim Superintendent, most likely a retired bureaucrat from outside the district.
There are many in the community who have suggested former City Manager John Jalili as the next Superintendent. He has earned a solid reputation as someone who gets along with all elements of the local political spectrum and is also noted as a very competent manager.
The District may oppose Mr. Jalili due to the fact that he is not one of their own, but it appears his nomination deserves very special consideration and would doubtless garner wide support.