Hungry for more about the superintendent finalists in San Diego Unified? Here are some extra details that didn’t make it into my story today. I’ve focused on the candidates who are less familiar to San Diego Unified, since Interim Superintendent Bill Kowba is already a known face:

  • Debbra Lindo, the CEO of the nonprofit College Track, got a lot of ink for her earlier work at two Bay Area high schools. One suffered heavy racial tensions, according to PODER 360 magazine:
  • During the fall of 1997, Carlmont High School was on edge. The closing of a public school in East Palo Alto forced school officials to bus its mostly Latino and black students to Carlmont, a predominantly white public school sitting on the hills of San Carlos and Belmont. Tensions between white students and the Latino and African-American students were about to boil over and the threat of racism was pervasive, says Debbra Lindo, then Carlmont principal. “Do you remember [the movie] Dangerous Minds with Michelle Pfeiffer? That was my school.”

    No, really — it was. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that those racial tensions were the basis for My Posse Don’t Do Homework, a book by Carlmont teacher LouAnne Johnson that was adapted into the 1995 film Dangerous Minds. Lindo coped with those tensions by shutting down the school several times to have “days of respect” conversations, the Chronicle wrote.

  • Dale Vigil, former Hayward Unified superintendent, has been offered a job as an area superintendent in Los Angeles Unified. When I asked him about it last week, Vigil called it “an option” and said it was irrelevant to his bid for the San Diego superintendency. If Vigil takes it, he would begin work in July.
  • Lindo also backed Race to the Top, a competition between states for stimulus money in exchange for specific reforms, which could put her at odds with the San Diego Unified school board. She wrote an open letter urging the Oakland mayor to join the coalition of groups creating a California application, saying that Race to the Top “may be imperfect, but it has the potential to move the needle for many more students in our city.” San Diego Unified didn’t join the Race, either.
  • Vigil also has a fascinating personal history that likely shaped his zeal for helping English learners do better in school. In an interview with the Tri-City Voice, he said:

    My family is originally from a little coal-mining town in southern Colorado near New Mexico called Trinidad. We were raised in seven countries – not bad for a Latino from a small coal-mining town. My father became a diplomat specializing in Latin America so I was conceived in Venezuela (I am a twin) and born in Brownsville, Texas; my dad was stationed in Matamoros across the border. I started school in Honduras, moved to Argentina, then Colombia. I spent one school semester in Alexandria, Virginia and one semester in Trinidad, Colorado. Then it was back out to Lima, Peru, Okinawa, Japan and graduation in Guatemala. I went to college in Colorado and settled on teaching. My major was Spanish and minor Social Studies.


Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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