Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) is looking for a new superintendent. Dr. Stella M. Kemp submitted a letter of resignation to the Board of Trustees on Friday, effective July 1.
The district will hold a special school board meeting on June 29. It will be the first time school board members will meet since receiving the letter of resignation. The meeting will begin the process of finding new district leadership. The school board will discuss two positions, the interim superintendent and an official replacement for Dr. Kemp.
“The Interim Superintendent will be a temporary assignment until we are able to hire our next Superintendent for SCUSD,” said the Board of Trustees in a note posted on the school district’s website Monday. “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.”
In her letter to the SCUSD community, Dr. Kemp explained that she needed time away.
“There is no denying that the last couple of years have been some of the most difficult for our district, and the world as we navigated together through the biggest crisis of our lifetime in COVID-19,” wrote Dr. Kemp in a letter to the SCUSD community. “As a result of the grueling pace that I have been living through for the last two years, I find myself needing a moment of pause to ensure that I am able to perform at the level of excellence that I have established in myself. I also want to use this time away to think about the type of challenges that I need to feel fulfilled both as a person and a professional.”
She did say she will spend time with her family and she thanked the district for the “friendship and support” that she received during her tenure.
“You made the most difficult days inspiring, as I knew that we were in this crisis together,” wrote Dr. Kemp.
Dr. Kemp’s tenure as SCUSD superintendent was not without controversy. Earlier this year, parents at Laurelwood Elementary School turned out to the school board meeting in droves to protest a decision by district leadership to hire an outside principal despite a popular internal candidate.
The outcry led Dr. Kemp to declare the hiring process was “compromised” and place the hiring on hold. Following a heated school board meeting, the members of the Laurelwood principal selection committee which included parents, teachers and school staff, received letters declaring a formal investigation.
That investigation was later dropped and the district decided to hire the internal candidate as the Laurelwood principal.
However, the damage was done. There was a litany of criticism from teachers at other schools and district staff members, frustrated by what they felt were unfair decisions by district leadership. Several critics turned up at each school board meeting to call on Dr. Kemp to step down.