Seven Times In Nine Years
Superintendent Sugiyama To Step Down
Board Seeks New Schools Chief
And so ends the short tenure of Dr John Sugiyama, Superintendent to the Emery Unified School District.
After two years at the helm Superintendent Sugiyama, 62, recently announced his retirement, prompting the school board to seek the services of an executive search firm to find a replacement.
It will be the seventh time the troubled school district has changed leadership in nine years since former Superintendent JL Handy resigned following a grand jury indictment for ethics violations including personal use of a district credit card. Following Mr Handy's resignation, the district declared bankruptcy and was taken over by the State of California and infused with a $1.2 million loan, of which some $800,000 is still owed.
Mr Sugiyama himself replaced Superintendent Steven Wesley who was fired after the San Francisco Chronicle revealed he had lied on his resume including falsely claiming he had achieved a PhD. The Chronicle reported Mr Wesley's resume was "riddled with falsehoods". The school board selected Mr Wesley from a group of seven finalists brought to them from the executive search firm 'California School Board Association'.
School board president Josh Simon said after the false resume was exposed, "I'm certainly surprised, CBSA did background checking for our applicants. None of this came up". For its part, the search firm said resume checking was the responsibility of the school board and not within the scope of its contract with the school district.
This time the school board has hired 'Leadership Associates', a southern California based search firm that specializes in school superintendent searches. The firm prominently lists that "references will be checked thoroughly" as one of its core services.
Always intended as an interim superintendent, Mr Sugiyama's contract will expire in June and the school board expects a replacement to be named by the end of March.
In the wake of the Wesley debacle and at the request of Leadership Associates, the school board has decided to solicit the resident's opinions and agreed to open the selection process up to community input. The public is invited to comment and the district has set aside the Emery Theater on the high school campus for testimony on January 10 from 5:00 to 6:00 pm.