A week after the Glendale Unified school board voted to release Supt. Winfred Roberson Jr. from his contract without cause, the same five-member governing board voted to begin the process to find his replacement.
At their first regular meeting since last Tuesday’s action, board members decided to hire an outside party to conduct a job search rather than assign the task to district personnel.
District staff and legal counsel Howard Friedman both favored hiring an outside firm.
“For a district this large, with three comprehensive high schools and that type of thing, the usual practice … is to use a search firm that gives you full extension to as many potential candidates that you can,” Friedman said.
The board’s decision to seek outside help officially began Wednesday.
From now until Wednesday, the board will be mailing and emailing requests for proposals from search firms. Interested parties who do not receive district correspondence can still find information about filing a proposal request at the district’s website, gusd.net.
Interim Supt. Kelly King said the “aggressive” timeline was necessary, “to attract the strongest pool of candidates so that the board has those strong candidates to choose between.”
On Wednesday, board president Greg Krikorian and vice president Jennifer Freemon are set to review the proposals and select no more than four candidates for further consideration.
Notably, Krikorian was one of three votes in favor of dismissing Roberson during a closed-door evaluation on Jan. 29, while Freemon was one of two votes against the move.
“This is now the will of the board,” Freemon said. “I will be supporting the board’s decision, and you will not hear me speaking against the decision because that is not appropriate and that is not our protocol.”
Those search-firm finalists will then be invited to a board meeting on Feb. 19 to make a public pitch, with the board ultimately voting for one.
The eventual choice will then meet with the board during a special meeting to discuss specifications for the superintendent search.
Board members have already identified seven firms — all outside Los Angeles County — including California companies Cosca Group of Fairfield, Dave Long & Associates of Laguna Beach, Leadership Associates of La Quinta, Educational Leadership Services of Oakdale and Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, Ltd. of Palo Alto.
Firms Ray and Associates, Inc., of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the California School Boards Assn., represented by Omaha-based McPherson & Jacobson, L.L.C, are also under consideration.
Ultimately, the board has set a June 1 deadline to find a new superintendent.
As for Roberson’s dismissal, board members spoke out against rumors that spread after their 3-2 vote on Jan. 29.
“There are no details,” said board member Armina Gharpetian, who voted for dismissal. “First of all, this is a personnel matter, and I don’t think anybody who is an employee of the district would like us to share any more details than that.”
Roberson’s termination means the district is on the hook for his salary, which Krikorian described as “close to a $300,000-per-year package,” until March 2020 or until Roberson finds new employment.
According to the website transparentcalifornia.com, Roberson earned a base pay of $255,000, with benefits and other pay totaling $321,971 in 2017.
King, a prominent member of district’s team that investigated a brawl that broke out last year at Hoover High School, said she wanted to make it clear that the rumored involvement of Krikorian son’s in the Hoover fight was untrue and played no factor in Roberson’s dismissal.
“I can confirm, with 100% certainty, that Mr. Krikorian’s son was not on campus when the situation unfolded,” King said. “Therefore, the implication that there’s a connection between trustee Krikorian’s son and his decision, or the board’s decision, is baseless.”
Kirkorian said he was disappointed about innuendos that race played a role in the dismissal of Roberson, the district’s first African American superintendent, or that Roberson was let go because of his handling of a brawl at Hoover High and its aftermath.
“It wasn’t a specific issue or incident,” Krikorian said. “The board of education made a very difficult decision, and we didn’t take it lightly. There have been a lot of rumors that it has been based on one incident or another, and there is so much that goes into a decision like this.”
Krikorian added that the hiring process “will not be based on race or religion. I want the best person for the job, regardless of race, religion, gender or whatever.”