In recent years, official publications, business cards and signs of the San Diego Unified School District seem to have eschewed the district’s other moniker: San Diego City Schools.

Along with a new name has also come a new logo:

Yet the old logo still appears in the forgotten recesses of the school district’s website:

Jack Brandais, a district spokesman, says the two names used to confuse him when he was a student in the city’s school system. However, he says that both are the official legal names for the district that can be used interchangeably, and that he knows of no formal effort to rebrand the district.

But long-time school board member John de Beck says there is more to the story. The new logo and the emphasis on the San Diego Unified name were recommended by a new communications consultant brought in by Superintendent Carl Cohn when he assumed office in 2005, de Beck says. The name, in particular, was chosen because the word “unified” was meant to represent unity, after years of bitter infighting among board members and between the board and the superintendent, Cohn’s predecessor Alan Bersin. (According to media reports, board members attended team-building exercises and even tried therapy to try to find a way to get along).

Though de Beck finds some irony in the new name: The rebranding effort, like several other Cohn initiatives, were approved without a school board vote — because board members distrust each other and can rarely sustain a three-person coalition needed to form a majority that can propose policies of its own or standup to the superintendent, de Beck says.


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