District confirms Jolly leaving

WEST BURBANK — The Burbank Unified School District confirmed Supt. Kevin Jolly’s resignation Monday, announcing that the top administrator would finish out a year on the job before stepping down June 30.

In a statement released late Monday night, school board President Dave Kemp said Jolly “brought passion, energy and progressive ideas in his time with the district.” But, that as Burbank Unified faced major challenges in the months ahead, “the district’s focus must be forward-looking and on ensuring that a leadership team and structure is in place that is able to guide the district through this critical transitional period.”

On Tuesday, Kemp said Jolly “had all the attributes of exactly what we were looking for,” but that “sometimes it works great, and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Board members stood behind their two-paragraph statement and declined to elaborate on what precipitated Jolly’s resignation.

“That statement pretty much speaks for where we are right now,” said school board member Debbie Kukta.

The announcement of Jolly’s resignation six months after he was hired was the latest shake-up of Burbank Unified’s leadership. Deputy Supt. Joel Shapiro — the district’s No. 2 official — recently took the superintendent position at South Pasadena Unified School District, weeks after Sue Boegh, a longtime aid within educational support services, retired.

Sources inside and outside the district said much of Jolly’s criticism came from management style, which some described as “suffocating” and “overbearing.” But Jolly’s defenders said he was hired with a mandate to modernize the district, and some did not embrace his methods.

The statement issued Monday night was written in conjunction with attorneys from both sides, school board members said.

“The agreement was that we would have this be a stand-alone statement,” Kemp said.

Jolly said he supported the statement but declined to elaborate. Board members said the search for a new superintendent would heat up in March. The same firm involved in Jolly’s hiring last year, Leadership Associates, will begin to send notices of the vacancy, officials said.

The school board has not formally discussed the process to hire a new superintendent, but members confirmed that Leadership Associates was expected to be involved. The board had organized several focus groups comprising varying constituencies to develop criteria for candidates.

“We already have the focus group results, and I think we’re going to go out and just — we haven’t talked about it, this is just in my mind — but we’ll have the search firm put out feelers and get some candidates we can look at,” Kukta said.

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