Working on a tight timeline, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s School Board has decided to retain Leadership Associates to help them with the search for an Interim Superintendent.
Board members would like to have an Interim Superintendent in place by July 1. The rushed deadline became necessary because the present Superintendent, Dianne Talarico, is departing the District on June 30 to become the Superintendent for the Burlingame School District in Northern California.
The School Board decided it would be best to hire an Interim Superintendent at this time because several Board seats are up for election in November, and they want to ensure that all post-election Board members will have a say in hiring the new Superintendent.
Leadership Associates stated in their proposal that their duties for assisting with the Interim Superintendent search would include meeting with the Board to determine a profile for the position, recruiting and reference-checking candidates that meet the profile, presenting summaries of qualified candidates to the Board to review, assisting with coordination of the interview process, and assisting with the development of the contract parameters between the candidate and the School District. The cost to the District for these services will be $9,500.
Members of the education community took the opportunity at the special June 4 Board meeting to weigh in on the Interim Superintendent search process. Debbie Mulvaney, co-chair of the organizing committee of the recently formed grassroots organization LEAD (Leadership * Effectiveness * Accountability * Direction), told the Board to avoid “a long, arduous process to look for an Interim Superintendent, but we should rather look at the resources in our own community for an experienced public administrator.” She added, “An Interim Superintendent can and should be a leader first who is politically astute, someone who is familiar with the political landscape in our two cities. We need someone who can hit the ground running.”
Early Education Task Force member Betsy Hichu stressed to the Board that she hoped “that even with this interim process…that you are going to make an effort to ensure that this process is as transparent as possible and that all segments of the community are given ample opportunities to weigh in. I think the interim position can be a very influential one, because that person will be serving at a crucial transition time. We are at a point where there are feelings of uncertainty on the part of some people in the community as to where the District is headed.”
Others, like Special Education activist Claudia Landis questioned the choice of Leadership Associates. School Board President Oscar de la Torre responded to those concerns by noting that Leadership Associates “has worked with us before…so they know the type of person we could use.”
The consultants from Leadership Associates agreed by stating, “The Interim Superintendent pool is minute. It usually consists of retired Superintendents who are not looking for long-term employment.” They added, “The contract is usually month-to-month so there is an option for either party to say it’s not working.”Before voting to work with Leadership Associates, the Board assured the community that the process would be open and transparent. They also decided to have a meeting where the community could weigh in on what type of qualities they would like to see in an Interim Superintendent, but no specific date was given.