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Glendale Unified superintendent search firm changes consultants

Glendale Unified superintendent search firm changes consultants
Glenn “Max” McGee, president of the Illinois-based search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, also known as HYA, flew into Glendale on Tuesday afternoon to personally lead the search for Glendale Unified's next superintendent. (File Photo)

A request made to the Glendale Unified school board has been followed up with changes in the hiring process for the district’s next superintendent.

Glenn “Max” McGee, president of the Illinois-based search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, also known as HYA, arrived in Glendale Tuesday afternoon to personally lead the search, replacing two consultants the district voted for less than a month earlier.

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“My understanding after talking to the board president [after the last board meeting on Feb. 26] was the majority of the board did not want Dr. [Dave] Cash and Rudy Castruita on the search for reasons related to a previous superintendent,” McGee said.

McGee is set to receive assistance from Maria Ott, a former Rowland Unified superintendent.

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“I would be glad to meet with the board, go through the process and take a co-leadership role in the search because that’s how important I think this Glendale search is,” McGee said in a phone interview. “With Maria’s local support, I thought we could do a good job and keep on schedule.”

McGee and Ott were expected to set a new timeline for the search during a board meeting Tuesday evening, which concluded after the News-Press’ deadline. Ultimately, the board is hoping to have a new superintendent in place by June 1.

Taline Arsenian, president of the Glendale Teachers Assn., called on the board during a meeting on Feb. 26 to dump HYA and, if that were not possible, to at least replace Cash and Castruita.

“Doing due diligence is much more than what is in a presentation packet,” she said. “It is much more than what is presented during a 10-minute presentation to the public. Doing your due diligence is checking references and touching bases with people who have had experience with the people you’re considering hiring.”

Arsenian did not elaborate on her issue with Cash or Castruita nor did any of the five board members respond to inquiries from the News-Press.

Arsenian did say she had “serious reservations” about whether HYA — which was chosen over the Cosca Group and Leadership Associates on Feb. 19 to conduct the superintendent search — would be able to provide a candidate “with integrity.”

Over the last five years, HYA’s methods have been called into question on a handful of occasions nationwide, including in Des Plaines, Ill., when a superintendent with an alleged history of sexual harassment allegations was hired in 2016.

There was also an issue in Minnesota in 2015, when the Minneapolis Public School District selected a candidate who allegedly abused special education students and in Tennessee in 2015, when a candidate who had twice resigned from previous posts and was accused of extravagant spending was a finalist for the Nashville school district’s top job.

None of the five Glendale Unified board members responded to emails asking whether they had conducted a Google search or any background searches prior to the Feb. 19 board meeting at which HYA, represented by Cash or Castruita, was selected.

Also, neither Cash or Castruita were asked about any of those issues by board members on Feb. 19.

McGee, who was hired less than two years ago, was not with the company during those scandals but said changes have been made to avoid similar scenarios.

One adjustment was to hire a third-party search firm, Baker-Eubanks, to conduct an additional background search.

“We came in and made several process changes, and this will not happen again, whether it’s Des Plaines, Minneapolis or wherever,” he said.

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