New SMMUSD office

SMMUSD Board of Education Members spent Tuesday and Wednesday of this week interviewing candidates to lead the district in the future as the new superintendent.

The interviews are one of the final phases in the district’s superintendent search process. An announcement of who will fill the position is expected in early June, approximately six months after former SMMUSD superintendent Ben Drati announced in November 2022 that he would be leaving the district at the beginning of 2023.

The Board appointed Mark Kelly as interim superintendent on Dec 15, effective beginning in January 2023. In February they hired the executive search firm Leadership Associates to head up the process.

Following this week’s interviews, future steps will include a thorough background and reference checks of any potential candidates. Board members may also visit candidates’ current district and meet with officials and staff there, according to SMMUSD spokesperson Gail Pinkser.

As the search has played out over the past few months, Leadership Associates have SMMUSD board gathered community input via an online survey and meetings with various stakeholder groups, developed and posted an official position description outlining desired experience and qualities and screened candidate applications prior to proceeding with an interview.

However, multiple teachers said they did not feel that they were given adequate time or opportunity to give feedback. Following a Board meeting where the matter was discussed, several additions and changes were made to the position description.

Lead consultant of Leadership Associates Peggy Lynch said that they description would primarily be used to inform and shape interview questions.

Leadership Associates is the same firm the board used to hire Drati and the SMMUSD superintendent before him. Because of this, board members have said they feel confident the firm and the process they are facilitating will help them to find a candidate that meets the district’s needs.

A new superintendent is expected to start work by the beginning of July of this year, just ahead of the 2023-2024 school year. More details about next steps in the process are expected later this week.

Grace Adams is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University where she studied Spanish and journalism. She holds a Master’s degree in investigative journalism from City, University of London. She has experience...