San Diego Unified Office SDUSD
The San Diego Unified School District headquarters / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The superintendent searches in Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified — the first and second largest districts in California — could hardly be going more differently. 

One of the biggest differences: Los Angeles Unified hired a recruitment firm to make sure it went after the best and brightest education leaders across the country. San Diego Unified did not. The districts have now settled on very different types of leaders for the top jobs.

Los Angeles officials voted this week to hire Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the fourth largest district in the nation. Carvalho has received much praise nationally for his work in Florida. 

Meanwhile, San Diego Unified board members have announced they will interview two people for the open superintendent position: interim superintendent (and San Diego Unified veteran) Lamont Jackson and Susan Enfield, a relatively unknown candidate who runs a school district in suburban Washington state. 

Enfield certainly has a great track record. She’s been superintendent of Highline Public Schools, outside of Seattle, for nearly 10 years. Last month, she was named Superintendent of the Year in Washington, by an association of school administrators. She’s a former English and journalism teacher

But Enfield will have a tough time winning over the San Diego Unified school board over its homegrown candidate Jackson. Not only does Jackson now have experience managing a large district, he’s also from San Diego — and San Diego Unified has a liking for people who have risen through its ranks. 

Jackson has worked in the district since 1998, as the Union-Tribune reported

Former superintendent Cindy Marten rose through the ranks in San Diego Unified as a teacher, then principal, then superintendent. She is now the Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education. 

Interestingly, Carvalho’s story is not so different than Marten’s. He rose through the ranks in Miami, from teacher to spokesman to superintendent

San Diego Unified faced criticism early on for not hiring an outside search firm to headhunt a new superintendent. The district has not released any information on who applied for the job.  

Another school system looking for a leader: High Tech High CEO Rasheed Meadows wrote an email to staff and parents Wednesday announcing he was resigning immediately.

“Today is my last day, after which I’ll be taking some time to focus on health, family, and the next chapter of my career,” he wrote.

The High Tech High system now spans 16 schools with more than 6,000 students. It developed a national reputation for success but has recently faced serious tensions between employees and administrators — all of it exacerbated by the pandemic. The California Teachers Association accused the system in May of firing a teacher who have helped organize a union. But the school system recognized the High Tech Education Collective as the official bargaining unit of its teachers in August.

It was the latest successful union organizing effort at prestigious local charter schools — following Preuss School UC San Diego and Gompers Preparatory Academy.

Behold, New Voting Maps 

San Diego Unified's new sub-district boundaries
San Diego Unified’s new sub-district boundaries. Click to view larger image.
San Diego Unified’s new sub-district boundaries. Click to view larger image.

San Diego Unified approved a new electoral map this week. The five new sub-districts are intended to increase racial minority representation and came after a ballot measure last year made the districts even more important politically. Candidates used to run in their respective sub-district then go to a districtwide runoff, a process some civil rights advocates criticized for undermining the will of local communities. 

Similar to other redistricting disputes, this one centered on demographics. White people make up 42 percent of the population living within the boundaries of San Diego Unified and account for only a quarter of the student population inside its schools. But as the U-T reported, state law doesn’t require that school districts use student population as a criteria. 

San Diego County: Voters also got their own map for electing supervisors. District 1 is now a minority-majority Latino district in South Bay. Other boundaries drew outcry from community members, with compromises being made at the last minute

The U-T reported that “Chaldean leaders staged demonstrations last week and brought several bus loads of speakers to a commission meeting Friday.” Some of the debate revolved around whether immigrant communities should be aligned with East County or urban District 4. 

Bring your questions: We’re hosting an Instagram Live tonight at 6 p.m. with reporter Maya Srikrishnan about San Diego’s latest redistricting efforts. Which city council district did your community end up in? How do the new county supervisorial districts look? And how will this affect upcoming local elections? 

Click here to follow us on Instagram.

COVID: Day 4,389,666

It feels that way, doesn’t it? Well, buckle up because the news still ain’t great as the state’s new indoor mask mandate goes into effect. 

The number of infections reported over the past week far exceeded the previous one. NBC7 reports that authorities have laid the blame on Thanksgiving gatherings, not the Omicron variant. Twelve additional deaths were reported on Wednesday. 

Going forward, the state is expected to toughen restrictions on unvaccinated people attending big events indoors. The state is also recommending that people who travel or return to California be tested for COVID-19 within three to five days. 

But, of course, enforcement is the open question. 

In the meantime, inewsource reports that San Diego’s vulnerable neighborhoods are still reporting high COVID-19 rates even with vaccines and new records related to a San Diego County jail death contradict the sheriff’s previous statements

Our fave immunologist is back: Professor Shane Crotty sat down with Scott Lewis for this week’s podcast to talk about omicron, boosters and all the things we don’t know. Look for it in your podcast feed Friday.

In Other News

Hey loyal Morning Report reader — we need your help. Our team is $80,000 away from reaching our year-end fundraising goal of $250,000. Will you support quality local journalism by becoming a member today? Giving $35 a year gets you access to exclusive member events, updates from staff and more.

This Morning Report was written by Will Huntsberry, Jesse Marx and Andrew Keatts. It was edited by Megan Wood and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.