School Board Gets One Right


At its August meeting citizens asked for a town hall gathering to elicit community aspirations for a new school superintendent. The board agreed and on Sept. 29 we had a good turnout for the kind of civil dialogue we should have been having all along.

There is good reason to hope we can find a superintendent who is not a superhero or rock star, but has a proven track record that predicts success. We have an amazing school district with small town attributes and resources to produce even better results for our kids and families in the future.

The school board should rely more on its own common sense and less on education industry consultants to recruit a new superintendent.  But if the current board needs professional help so be it.

However, we need to reject the notion expressed by some that successful recruitment should be measured by whether the community “opposes” or “supports” the superintendent’s actions and performance. Any time public support or opposition to a school superintendent becomes a political issue, by definition good school governance has been derailed.

Superintendents are educators serving as chief administrators we rely on to carry out clearly defined policy and measurable program objectives, established in a competent, orderly and transparent manner by the elected school board.  The superintendent has no authority or powers over programs and policy independent of those delegated by the school board.

As such, superintendents should be strong academic leaders within the schools, with a community-relations role that should never be politicized.   Thus, if the school board and superintendent are doing their jobs right, the public directs its support or opposition to the school board, not the superintendent.

An effective high-functioning school board does not shift political management to a superintendent.  Likewise, a superintendent who is a confident academic leader does not allow the integrity of the chief administrator’s office to be compromised by enmeshment in the political duties of the elected school board.

National studies show weak school boards and inexperienced superintendents too often confuse their respective roles under state law.  When that happens an unhealthy codependency can become institutionalized.

So we need a new superintendent who does not have a recurring need for remedial civics lessons about best practices, and respects proper boundaries between career senior staff and the school board in its oversight role on behalf of the community.

Howard Hills, Laguna Beach

Campus Safety and Security:

Keeping Students, Teachers, All School Employees, Parents Safe:

Need Plan for Both Natural Disasters and Human Threats

Current Focus on Physical Barriers Not Sufficient

Intensive Education and Training Needed on Strategic and Tactical Defensive Capacity Building

Human Response More Important Than Physical Barriers and Restraints

Need State of the Art Professionally Engineered Security Training Program

Security Not Ancillary Duty of Senior Staff (e.g. Director of Facilities)

Reliance on Local Police and Emergency Response  

A Vision for A Legacy of Democratic School Governance:

Howard Hills Vision for Revival of Traditional American Civics in Public School Governance

·      Our School Board must sponsor establishment of a Local Public School Governance Institute to educate and train School Board Members, Senior Staff, teachers, students, current parents, future parents, community on American civics and local control in public school education

·      Establish a constitution based student government and civic literacy program for grades 5-12 to teach American civics, due process, equal protection, rules of order in public deliberations, rights of the individual and majority rights in the public commons, freedom of ideas and conscience, value of dissent, civil disobedience, rule of law.