The local school district may have conducted an “arduous national search” but the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District found its next Superintendent within its own walls.
Dr. Antonio Shelton, former Principal of Samohi and the District’s current Executive Director of Secondary Schools was hired for the Superintendent role on June 1. He is the first internal candidate in at least 60 years.
In a statement, the District said Shelton is an experienced educator with 23 years in the field, including 18 years in administrative positions and said he is recognized as an intelligent and innovative leader who is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for students.
In his current role, Shelton provides support, mentoring, and coaching to principals, helping them align their schools with the district’s vision and goals.
Prior to joining SMMUSD, Dr. Shelton held leadership positions in schools in Ohio, including serving as principal of Indian Hill High School. He has taught various subjects and has experience as an adjunct teacher and facilitator for graduate-level courses in educational leadership.
“Following an arduous national search with the assistance of our consulting firm, Leadership Associates, we reviewed 35 applications and held in-person interviews with top candidates, Dr. Antonio Shelton rose to the top and was selected by the Board,” said Board President Maria Leon-Vazquez. “Our communities are special and demand the best, and so does the Board. We welcome Dr. Shelton into his new role as the superintendent for SMMUSD. We are looking forward to him hitting the ground running leading SMMUSD through the 21st-century while planning for the 22nd-century.”
Shelton expressed his enthusiasm and gratitude for being appointed. He said that with his experience, he aims to continue the district’s high performance and maintain its esteemed reputation within the Los Angeles area and California. Dr. Shelton acknowledged the trust placed in him by the school board and pledged to lead the district to the best of his abilities with the support of the entire school community.
His goals include fostering strong relationships with educational partners in both Malibu and Santa Monica, promoting fiscal responsibility and transparency in financial decision-making, and utilizing data and research to drive instructional practices and student support. Dr. Shelton emphasizes the importance of creating an equitable system where students are heard, seen, and engaged in the learning process, while also prioritizing academic success, professional growth for staff, and intervention opportunities for students in need.
He believes that progress is being made regarding English learners and expects continued growth in the number of students being reclassified. He said he seeks to build consensus and collaboration with educational partners to ensure that all students have access to the best educational opportunities. He expresses gratitude to the Santa Monica Malibu community and envisions a journey of collaboration, trust, and student engagement as he leads the district towards its goals.
“I just really want to quickly share, this is really, really a special place. And, as you all know, it brought tears to my eyes, just of joy and the fact that I am entrusted with this great school community and this great staff that we have around us,” he said. “I’m truly excited and humbled to serve as Superintendent of Santa Monica and Malibu. As a current member of this amazing school community. I believe that we can continue to perform at a high level. This district is truly a gem in Los Angeles and the state of California. I hope to inspire students and staff to continue being the shining light that we have been since our inception.”
He said he remained committed to working collectively.
“And that’s what this is all about collaboration, coming together,” he said. “We won’t always agree. But the best thing about that we will have an honest conversation with each and every person and review those areas that need, may need, further support, reimagining. I always say we can go back and we can figure out how we move forward. Maybe something that once was doesn’t work anymore. So how do we reimagine that our innovative diverse and creative school district will continue to engage our staff and community in challenging conversations? Because we will have them that will lead to a more equitable system. I want to build consensus with our educational partners that will allow us to support this excellent school district, to ensure that all students are getting the best educational opportunities possible.”
Shelton holds a Bachelor of Arts in history, a Master of Arts in social studies, a Master of Arts in educational administration, and a doctorate in educational leadership. He will take up the new position on July 1.