FUSD Superintendent Retires, effective June 30, 2011
(l-r) Katie Hadley, Jeff Sweeney and Tony Prado
(l-r) Katie Hadley, Jeff Sweeney and Tony Prado

Wow, as if we didn't have enough local news I received word this morning from several FUSD staff members and parents that this morning (Thursday, May 5, 2011) an email was sent out from Superintendent Jeff Sweeney announcing his retirement effective June 30, 2011. His email included the letter that he delivered to the school board presumably during closed session on Tuesday (May 3) night. Here is the text of his email to staff:

This is not a budget update, although there is some optimism coming from Sacramento. We will know better in two weeks after the May Revise. For now, we will wait and hope…

I wanted to share the following letter that I gave to the Board Tuesday night:

Dear FUSD Board of Education,

I wanted to thank you for the last five years of serving the Fillmore Unified School District. It has been a distinct pleasure working with you, the staff, the students, and the community.

I wanted to let you know that I plan on retiring effective June 30, 2011. I will carry with me lifelong memories of working with all of you.


Jeff Sweeney


The brief note above does not begin to express the experience I have had working with you. I will share more in a future communiqué. Until then, I wish you enough…


I Wish You Enough

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Goodbye.”

- – - written by Bob Perks

This announcement comes after a tough year of budget reductions including the noticing of many employees. Sweeney as the top administrator in the District has at times been the target of complaints. According to Mr. Sweeney's contract his employment agreement is renewed and approved annually, so in terms of any side meeting any contract requirements this will be an easy shift.
Now what? According to FUSD Board policy (online at www.gamutonline.net ; login: Fillmore; password: public) BP 4111 pertaining to Personnel:

The Board of Education desires to employ the most highly qualified and appropriate person available for each open position in order to improve student achievement and efficiency in district operations.

BP 2121 Superintendent Recruitment and Selection:
The Board of Education recognizes that it has a direct responsibility to select and employ the Superintendent. Whenever it becomes necessary for the Board to fill a vacancy in the position of Superintendent, the Board shall work diligently to employ a person whose management and leadership abilities are most closely aligned with district needs.
The Board shall establish and implement a search and selection process that includes consideration of:

1. The district's current and long-term needs, including a review of the district's vision and goals
2. The desired characteristics of a new Superintendent, including professional experience, educational qualifications, leadership characteristics, philosophy of education, and other management, technical, interpersonal and conceptual skills, as well as the priorities the Board wants to place on different abilities, traits and levels of knowledge

3. The scope of the search, including whether to promote from within the district or broaden the search to include both internal and external candidates and, if external candidates will be considered, whether to conduct a statewide or nationwide search

4. The salary range and benefits to be offered

5. Basic elements to be included in the Superintendent's contract

6. Whether to hire a professional adviser to facilitate the process

7. How and when to involve the community in certain phases of the selection process
(the section of Board policy that relates to Citizen Advisory Committees cf. 1212 was not available online, I have requested that the text of it be emailed to me, I will post as soon as I can)

8. The best methods for advertising the vacancy and recruiting qualified candidates

9. The process for screening applications and determining how the screener(s) will be selected

10. Interview questions, processes and participants

11. How and when candidates' qualifications will be verified through reference checks

12. Other actions necessary to ensure a fair selection process and a smooth transition to new leadership

Even if a professional adviser is used to facilitate the process, the Board shall retain the right and responsibility to oversee the process and to review all applications if desired.

The Board shall select candidates to be interviewed based on recommendations of the screener(s) and the Board's own assessment of how candidates meet the criteria established by the Board.

The Board shall interview preliminary and final candidates in closed session and determine the most likely match for the district. (Government Code 54957)

The selected candidate shall hold both a valid school administration certificate and a valid teacher's certificate. The Board may waive any credential requirement, but shall not employ a person whose credential has been revoked by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing pursuant to Education Code 44421-44427. (Education Code 35028, 35029, 35029.1)

Before offering the position to the selected candidate or making any announcements, Board members may visit that candidate's current district, as appropriate, to obtain verification of his/her qualifications.

The Board shall deliberate in closed session to affirm the selection of the candidate and shall report the selection in open session. (Government Code 54957)

The Board shall conduct these proceedings in accordance with legal and ethical obligations regarding confidentiality and equal opportunity.
As necessary, the Board may appoint an interim superintendent to manage the district during the selection process.

Regarding the Contract with the Superintendent:
In approving employment contracts with the Superintendent, the Board of Education wishes to encourage the Superintendent's long-term commitment to the district and community while carefully considering the financial and legal implications of the contract in order to protect the district from any potentially adverse obligations.

The Board shall designate a representative to negotiate with the Superintendent on its behalf and shall consult legal counsel to draft the contract document.

The Board shall deliberate in closed session about the terms of the contract.

Terms of the contract shall remain confidential until the ratification process commences.

The Board shall ratify the Superintendent's contract in an open meeting, which shall be reflected in the Board's minutes. Copies of the contract shall be available to the public upon request.

The contract shall include, but not be limited to, provisions for salary and benefits, annual evaluations, term of the contract, and conditions for termination of the contract. The contract should also include general responsibilities and duties of the Superintendent.

The term of the contract shall be for no more than four years. (Education Code 35031)

During the term of the contract, the Board may reemploy the Superintendent on those terms and conditions mutually agreed upon by the Board and Superintendent. (Education Code 35031)

The Superintendent's contract shall be extended only by Board action and subsequent to a satisfactory evaluation of the Superintendent's performance.

In the event that the Board determines not to reemploy the Superintendent, the Board shall provide written notice to the Superintendent at least 45 days in advance of the expiration of the term of the contract. (Education Code 35031)

The Superintendent's contract shall include a provision specifying the maximum cash settlement that the Superintendent may receive upon termination of the contract. However, if the unexpired term of the contract is greater than 18 months, the maximum cash settlement shall be no more than the Superintendent's monthly salary multiplied by 18. The cash settlement shall not include any noncash items other than health benefits, which may be continued for the unexpired term of the contract up to 18 months or until the Superintendent finds other employment, whichever occurs first. (Government Code 53260, 53261)

(cf. 4117.5/4217.5/4317.5 - Termination Agreements)

If the Board terminates the Superintendent's contract upon its belief and subsequent confirmation pursuant to an independent audit that the Superintendent has engaged in fraud, misappropriation of funds, or other illegal practices, the maximum settlement shall be within the limits prescribed by law, as determined by an administrative law judge. (Government Code 53260)
Next I'll post the stated duties of the Superintendent.

What kind of skills do you think the new superintendent should have?
Bilingual? experience with low income community? success in turning around low performing schools?
What is important to you in your superintendent?
Remember every resident within FUSD has a stake in this. Schools are the foundation of the community and create lifelong links within that community. The quality of schools also affects property values, what companies come to town, job availability, and so on.

Do you think the School Board should form a Community Advisory Committee to assist in the selection process of a new superintendent? I have read about other Districts actually having open town hall interview sessions with final candidates, where the community can meet the final two or three, ask them questions and chat.

here is a link to a PDF report from a district in Pittsburgh, I thought this was very interesting... the questions asked are insightful. http://www.aplusschools.org/SuperReport.pdf

Keep an eye out for full article about Mr. Sweeney's retirement in next weeks Gazette.

Attend the Rally for Education in front of FUSD offices on sespe street next wednesday, here's a link for more info: http://www.fillmoregazette.com/community/fillmorepiru-rally-education