Superintendent Dr. Stella Kemp has resigned from Santa Clara Unified School District. Now, the Board of Trustees is searching for her replacement.
The process of finding an Interim Superintendent begins after news of Superintendent Dr. Kemp’s resignation. Dr. Kemp informed the Board of her departure on June 24, and it will be effective on July 1. The Interim Superintendent will be in place until SCUSD hires a new Superintendent.
“The board is committed to identifying an interim as quickly as possible, and we will keep the community informed at every step of this process,” the District said in a statement. They continue to say that Dr. Kemp will work as a Superintendent on Special Assignment to assist in the transition, as needed.
The Board has been evaluating the Superintendent’s performance since their April 28 meeting, when the Laurelwood Elementary School Principal search got contentious with the community. All these discussions were in Closed Session, so it isn’t known what exactly was discussed.
During Closed Session at the special meeting on Wednesday, June 29, Board President Jodi Muirhead reported that they “received information” and discussed the appointment of an Interim Superintendent but did not discuss the appointment of a Superintendent. They did not announce an Interim Superintendent.
A couple of community members called into the meeting to talk about this transition period and the Superintendent search.
“We ask that you keep three leadership qualities in mind,” said Margie Wysocki, UTSC Vice President. “One we need a leader who can reestablish trust and rebuild relationships. Two, we need someone who will commit to a shared decision-making model and who values labor management partnerships where are all stakeholders are heard, valued and supported. Finally, we need a good communicator.”
Kristin Gonzalez, Principal of Wilcox High School, said “You should own some responsibility for this situation that we’re in and I’d you to take some time to reflect on that.” Gonzalez asked that the Board not undo the good work that’s been done over the last three years. To keep the things that work like Vision 2035.
So, the search continues. Muirhead said that there will be another special meeting, presumably to continue these discussions, but they will also most likely be in Closed Session.
Equitable Grading Consultant
Board Vice President Vickie Fairchild pulled a Consultant Agreement Renewal with Crescendo Education Group from the last meeting’s consent calendar and the Board asked for more information on the Equitable Grading Professional Learning and Coaching agreement.
At this meeting, the Board debated the cost of the contract ($120,000) when the District is expected to go into deficit spending and there’s a possible recession looming over their heads.
Fairchild said they shouldn’t go to the most expensive consultants for this kind of work, even though it is very valuable. She also pointed out that the County of Santa Clara offers a free online course on Equitable Grading.
Board Member Jim Canova wanted to hit the pause button and wait for the Interim Superintendent. He also said, “We need to learn how to say ‘no.’” Board Member Dr. Michele Ryan countered. She said has been voting ‘no’ on other things, but supports Equitable Grading because it directly benefits the students.
The agreement with Crescendo Education Group passed 5 – 2, with Canova and Fairchild voting no.
Brad Stam, Chief Academic and Innovation Officer, is committed to making sure the District and the participating teachers get the most out of the program and will review the program at the end of the year. He believes that they will need about three years until the program is at critical mass.
The program has 20 teachers returning from last year and 40 new teachers.
The next regular meeting is on Thursday, August 11. But the Board may have another special meeting before then, presumably to continue the hiring process for an Interim Superintendent.