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Public Gives Ideas on Hiring Schools Chief

WANTED: School superintendent with a doctoral degree, a background in early childhood education, an understanding of the Latino culture and language, an ability to improve test scores and excellent interaction skills with parents and teachers.

During a public hearing Thursday, Santa Paula Elementary school board members listened to the smorgasbord of criteria that residents, educators and community leaders want in a new superintendent.

“Before the board undertakes the process of selecting a superintendent, we felt the first step was to develop a criteria,” trustee Steven Shuel said. “We wanted the public to give some input on this.”

The search for a successor to oversee the 3,548 students at the district’s one middle and six elementary schools began after trustees voted to fire Supt. Dave Philips about two months ago. Philips had served since 1989.

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For months, questions about whether to extend or end Philips’ contract had created strained relationships among board members as well as between the trustees and Philips. In December, trustees bought out Philips’ contract and told him to clear out his desk.

A number of speakers urged the board to hire Assistant Supt. Bonnie Bruington, the interim superintendent. Others strongly recommended that the search be open to applicants outside the district.

Parents and members of the Latino Town Hall said they hoped the new superintendent would be familiar with the Latino culture and language in a district where 82.1% of the student population is Latino.

Before they begin an all-out search for a new superintendent, board members said, they will make public the qualities and criteria they decide a superintendent should have.

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