Recap: A new Superintendent!

Richard listened as Carlos and members of the Board said lots of nice things about him; his daughter sat at the staff table and recorded every word for posterity.

The big news from tonight’s meeting is that the Board unanimously voted to confirm Richard Carranza as the new Superintendent of SFUSD, beginning in July 2012. He will receive a $245,000 annual salary each year for the term of his three year contract.

Richard has never been a Superintendent before, but he has served as Carlos’ deputy for the last two years and has proved himself more than up to the job of Superintendent of SFUSD. He is smart, hardworking and focused on the job at hand; we like that he has school-age children (two lovely and poised daughters) who are attending (and excelling at) SFUSD schools.  In his remarks this evening, Richard told a story about a time in his life when he wasn’t sure he wanted to go to college. His father took him to work at his job cutting sheet metal in 112 degree Arizona heat, and told him: “I don’t want you to work like me. Work with your head, not your hands.” That was the lesson that set him on the road to being an educator, Richard said, as his proud family looked on (one thing I learned tonight — Richard is an identical twin, and you would be hard-pressed to tell him from his brother Ruben –four minutes younger — if they dressed and combed their hair alike).  Carlos was visibly moved as the Board voted, because having Richard succeed him has long been a dream for him.

The bottom line is that Richard is the right man for the district at this moment. We have made a lot of progress since Carlos arrived, and Richard has proved himself to be a person with the vision, skill and the drive to carry the district to the next level even as he has a deep and first-hand knowledge of where we have been. In addition, I will always be personally grateful to Richard for the way he has championed the special education overhaul.

Other items of note from tonight’s agenda:

  • Board members unanimously passed a resolution authored by several student delegates, articulating a broad bathroom access policy for students. Though each school will be able to craft their own specific rules about bathroom access, the new policy makes clear that bathroom access is a right, and students should not have to explain their bodily functions or restrain them at the order of an adult. Bathrooms should remain unlocked during the school day, and students should be allowed to access them as needed as long as that right to access is not abused.
  • We also passed updates to the Board’s comprehensive health education policy, and heard a presentation of data about some of the health challenges that still affect our students. The updated policy makes clear that health education is a priority for SFUSD students and requests that the district redouble its effort to be sure all students are receiving the recommended number of lessons each year.
  • Large groups from Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy and Buena Vista Horace Mann each came to discuss their principal leadership (the Harvey Milk group spoke in favor of their current principal while the Buena Vista Horace Mann group spoke in favor of a past administrator taking the soon-to-be vacant principal’s job). We heard from teachers who are affected by the Board’s authorization of layoffs back in February, and were urged to rescind those layoffs as soon as possible. A group of non-English-speaking parents came to advocate for more Transitional Kindergarten sites.

10 responses to “Recap: A new Superintendent!

  1. @ Bernal Dad, before each “Town Hall” event — perhaps speakers could be reminded of the slander laws, and that might make them think twice before naming names and trying to ruin people’s reputations? If the accusations they make can be proven, it isn’t slander.

  2. Hi Mark – we heard some of the results Tuesday but a longer report was presented to us at Curriculum on April 18.

  3. Hey Ms. Rachel: As part of the “health education policy”, did Kevin Gogin present the latest Health Survey results??? Cheers!

  4. Town Hall meetings are a good idea. Gawd help the BoE during them, though.

    “People need to feel listened to; people need to feel heard.”

    Sure, I’m not so sure that courtesy should be extended to slagging off officials not in the public eye. Board members, the superintendent, OK, but the’s something unpleasant about staff at the school level having their reputations impaired in public with no change to defend themselves.

  5. I like Katy’s idea of Town Hall meetings. The board meetings are rightfully agenda-driven. But parents and other members of the public often have other concerns that they want the board to be aware of, and feel they have no other recourse.

    I realize this is essentially adding more duties an unpaid job, but it seems like Town Hall meetings would take some of the pressure off of regular meetings, allowing them to be shorter and more focused.

  6. People need to feel listened to; people need to feel heard.
    Waiting for several hours in order to be given one minute to say something does not make parents feel like hearing what parents have to say is any sort of Board priority.
    Perhaps if the BOE had “Town Hall” type meetings, just for public comment, about 6 times a year, that would help?
    Also, there is no actual law that prevents parents from mentioning the names of any school district employee, during public comment, if they want to.

  7. We already don’t comment on personnel issues in public and also don’t comment on things that are not on the agenda. Most of what you hear is general public comment, where anything (kinda) goes. We could, however, limit general public comment to a certain amount of time, or be more aggressive about trying to direct people to staff who can hear and/or solve their problem rather than just allowing public airing. It’s just a difficult line to define — people who take the trouble to come down to the Board and express an opinion are very offended if the chair shuts them down.

  8. Could you make a blanket statement that the board can’t comment on specific employment contracts during public meetings? (Just for legal reasons alone – a loose statement by a board member could put the district in a world of legal hurt.)

  9. I agree with you that it’s undignified and sometimes downright destructive. I have seen people make jaw-dropping allegations against staff at public meetings — allegations that have sometimes proved to be false or wildly exaggerated. But we can’t order people not to say what they came to say — we can only set a reasonable time for public comment and ask them politely not to mention staff by name. Most of the time people respect that request but this kind of he said/she said thing is not the best use of public time and in the end does not really help advance a cause. I was at an NSBA workshop last weekend where one former Superintendent said he was able to keep his Board meetings to under two hours by always directing groups of angry staff or parents to the administrator in charge of solving the problem. I am not sure that would completely work in SF — we have a very participatory political culture and a general expectation that people get to be heard if they have something to say — but perhaps we could nudge things a bit more in the problem-solving rather than problem-shouting direction.

  10. Interesting that a different faction from Harvey Milk came out in favor of their principal, as opposed to the last meeting where the parents were vocally against.

    Maybe time to make a rule to exclude discussions of hiring/firing of specific named personnel from public meetings?

    Private letters, lobbying, OK, but air time at school board meetings (which are publicly broadcast) slagging off a principal or other staff at a school seems undignified.