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Monday, December 20, 2010

School Board Seeks New Superintendent

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.


  1. What a sorry record! I wish the school board would take more responsibility. I sure hope the new school will improve things.

  2. While we always knew he was just a water carrier for Nora Davis and has spent his entire tenure in supplication to her misguided vision, Simon has now proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that he is also an incompetent bozo

  3. OK people, let's try to keep the name-calling out.

  4. It seems like no one at the school district ever wants to own up to any mistakes. It's always a whitewash from them. I remember after that Wesley guy was picked it was nothing but smack about how great he is. The chamber paper did a peice on what a wonderful choice the school board made. All we get is good news from them. I think their cred is shot.

  5. it's unfortunate that mr. sugiyama has decided to retire again. i found him to be a most reasonable man who always replied to my inquiries.

  6. Dr Sugiyama has worked hard on many issues regarding children and families. He devoted time and energy to addressing prenatal to five needs in Emeryville; an area that the city has not put energy into. He also leaves a Wellness Committee set to implement some excellent strategies into the school infrastructure.

    Among other things he did during his short tenure was driving the measure J agenda for the new school.

  7. The sad thing about Wesley is that he was the third on the list of recommendations.

    But good riddance to Sugiyama, one of the biggest do nothing, lack of vision and lack of leaderships the district has ever had.

    Citing measure J as a good thing is horrible. Measure J is a financial albatross that will be hanging on the neck of Emeryville for a LOOONG time to come.

  8. This Emeryville School District is and has for many years been renowned for being a mess. It is nothing new that from its low academic achievement outcomes and quality to inept and corrupt administration, the school district is a bad joke. As it should be clearly understood by now continually switching to a new Superintendent every few years will not better the situation for the Emeryville School District. It is simply time to break the status quo.

    City and state officials need to “clean house” in the Emeryville School District and do a reorganization. Move those people who have been at the district for over five years in administration at each of the schools out of their management positions. These people are the constants in this equation that seems to never add up. Remove these people and I will bet, there will finally be change. Replace them with fresh talented people with proven track records and credentials, who can and will actually take critical measures to turn the District around for the better.