SMMUSD HDQTRS — Assistant Superintendent Mike Matthews has been tapped to run the public school system in Manhattan Beach.

Officials with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District made the announcement late Tuesday, saying Matthews, who is currently in charge of human resources at the district, will become superintendent of the Manhattan Beach Unified School District effective July 1.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected as the new superintendent … ,” Matthews said. “I look forward to getting to know the Manhattan Beach community and working with the Board of Education, the employees and the community to move this great district forward.”

Matthews has worked for the SMMUSD for 17 years and served as interim superintendent in 2006 following the departure of John Deasy. Matthews made it known that he was interested in succeeding Deasy, but the school board chose Dianne Talarico, who resigned before fulfilling the terms of her contract. During that time, Matthews left the district to serve as vice president of Extreme Learning, which focused on helping California schools meet and exceed federal, state and local academic performance targets.

As head of human resources for the SMMUSD, Matthews served as the chief negotiator for the district, recruited and hired all teachers, supervised employee discipline and dismissals, handled all public and employee complaints and grievances, organized employee recognition, directed health and welfare benefits and managed compliance with all state and federal regulations regarding teachers and administrators.

“Manhattan Beach is gaining a strong leader who is dedicated to the success of all students,” said SMMUSD Superintendent Tim Cuneo. “Mike has contributed a great deal to the success of SMMUSD and will be missed. I wish him all the best … .”

Prior to joining the district’s administrative team, Matthews served as the first principal of the newly-formed Malibu High School, a position he held from 1993 to 2004. Under his leadership, Malibu High School was named a California Distinguished High School in 2004, advanced placement scores rose and the school was ranked among the top 10 percent of similar schools in the state.

As principal, Matthews didn’t lose touch with his students. Along with his many duties, Matthews found time to teach an advanced placement course in U.S. history. Matthews taught a range of social studies classes from 1985 to 1993.

School officials said Matthews is well respected, working closely with both certificated and classified staff. He is known for treating individuals with respect and addressing issues in a fair manner.

“Mike has shown great leadership during his tenure with our school district,” said Board of Education President Barry Snell. “He was instrumental in guiding Malibu High School in its early days as a new high school, and his work as … assistant superintendent for HR has been invaluable for our employee groups. Mike will be greatly missed, and I thank him for his dedication to our students and families.”

Manhattan Beach School District is an award-winning school district that has attained national recognition. There are five elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. There are roughly 6,000 students. Per pupil spending is $8,501. Twelve percent of students are reported to have an individualized education program, or IEP. An IEP is a written plan for students eligible for special needs services.

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