H.B. high school district hires new superintendent

With a resumé including school custodian, teacher, baseball coach and principal, Clint Harwick is now preparing to lead the 16,000-student Huntington Beach Union High School District as its new superintendent.

The district's board approved Harwick's contract Tuesday night. His official start date is Jan. 1.

Harwick, a Newport Beach resident and current superintendent of the Saddleback Valley Unified School District in south Orange County, began his career in education in the 1980s in the Claremont and Glendora areas in Los Angeles County.

Huntington Beach Union board President Duane Dishno said his district began a statewide search for a new schools chief in June, immediately after then-Supt. Gregory Plutko left for the same post in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District.

Since then, Alan Rasmussen, a former Ocean View School District superintendent, has been Huntington Beach Union's interim superintendent. Rasmussen, who is retired, led the Ocean View district from 2007 to 2011.

Harwick was one of five candidates the board chose for in-person interviews.

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According to Dishno, Harwick's well-rounded experience as a high school teacher, an activities director, an athletic coach, a principal and a director of alternative education and classified personnel made him stand out.

"If I could use one word to describe him, it's 'authentic,'" Dishno said. "He's just an all-around educator with a background that includes all the kids."

Harwick agreed that his decades of wearing different hats in the school system have paid off.

"Whether it's cleaning a classroom, teaching a group of students or standing in front of faculty and staff it gives you a sense of the challenges people deal with but also the successes people appreciate when you go out and support them," he said.

Though Harwick's career in schools began as a custodian for the Glendora Unified School District, his exposure to the education field dates to his childhood. His father was a high school teacher and baseball coach and his mother was a kindergarten teacher.

"I grew up running around campus" when his father taught and coached at Glendora High, Harwick said. "I had a great upbringing in how you serve people."

Harwick holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Redlands and a master's in education and doctorate in educational leadership from Azusa Pacific University.

He began to add to his professional resumé in 1988, beginning his teaching career at a continuation high school in Claremont.

He later served as a teacher, activities director, assistant principal, principal and director of classified personnel and alternative education in Claremont.

Harwick was superintendent of the Rim of the World Unified School District in San Bernardino County from 2003 to 2007 and of the Charter Oak Unified School District in Covina from 2007 to 2010. He then became schools chief for Saddleback Valley Unified.

Dishno said a team of Huntington Beach Union board members, administrators, classified personnel and a teacher and a parent visited Saddleback Valley last week to meet with Harwick's staff.

"The purpose of that visit was to affirm what the board had felt in the interview process," Dishno said. "We visited and talked with people who worked for him, and while they were sad to see they would lose him, they were very happy for him personally. It was a real affirmation of the decision being made."

Saddleback Valley Unified, based in Mission Viejo, includes 24 elementary schools, five middle schools and seven high schools, serving 29,000 students in an attendance area that covers about 95 square miles, according to its website.

Huntington Beach Union includes Edison, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Marina, Ocean View and Westminster high schools, plus alternative education campuses Valley Vista High, Coast High and Huntington Beach Adult School.

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Alex Chan, alexandra.chan@latimes.com

Twitter: @AlexandraChan10

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