Interim superintendent resigns, leadership short-staffed

In a decision that surprised many, Tina Douglas resigned from her SDUHSD interim superintendent position on Nov. 18 amidst a staffing shortage in the district office, despite previously saying that she would remain in the position through June 2023.

Douglas plans to return to her associate superintendent position in business services. While she
initially gave her 10 days notice, she later extended her stay as interim superintendent, announcing plans during a board meeting on Nov. 29 to return to her previous role by Jan. 31 or sooner if the district finds a new interim superintendent before then.

The board, which recently added three new members, plans to begin its search at the next meeting, on Dec. 13.

At the time of her unanimous appointment to interim superintendent in April, Douglas was the district’s fourth superintendent in one year. The previous superintendent, Dr. Cheryl James-Ward, was terminated over the summer after making controversial comments about the Asian American community in the district in April.

In a message to district staff apologizing for her resignation, Douglas explained why she had taken the interim position.

“I felt very strongly that what we needed to help us through yet another transition was someone from the inside,” Douglas said. “It has not been easy and I knew that going in.”

Douglas’ resignation came after a motion to appoint the district’s Executive Director of Planning Services, John Addleman, to fill her business services position failed to pass at a board meeting on Nov. 17.

When Douglas was appointed in April, a consultant was hired to help her with her business services position. However, during the Nov. 17 meeting, Douglas said that Addleman had been “carrying the load” of the position, without compensation, since May.

“For me, it wouldn’t be fair to continue to have John do the work if he’s not going to be compensated for it,” Douglas said during the Nov. 17 meeting.

Board President Maureen Muir and Vice President Michael Allman supported the motion while Katrina Young opposed.

“I think we should defer on this one to Tina and if she thinks [the motion] is the right thing to do, I’ll support that,” Allman said at the meeting.

Young justified her opposition to the motion by citing other unfilled positions in the district office.

“There are also others that are also shouldering extra burdens,” she said at the meeting. “My strong preference would be to look at our district structure in a holistic manner and an equitable one and make sure that we’re … giving those supports to everyone that needs it and not just one department.”

With trustee Julie Bronstein’s absence from the meeting, agenda items required a unanimous vote to pass and the motion failed. The next day, Douglas sent her resignation to the board.

Young said that she did not know of Douglas’ intentions to resign at the time of her opposing vote, noting that knowing of the resignation “certainly would have affected my thought process and I definitely would have put that into consideration.”

There were 13 unfilled positions in the district office at the time of the Nov. 17 meeting, including four in administrative services and six in business services, according to Young.

Notably, the associate superintendent of administrative services position was left empty after the resignation of Mark Miller in November when he accepted a position in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District as the director of human resources. There is currently no plan to fill Miller’s position, according to the district’s Communications Coordinator Miquel Jacobs. Both Bryan Marcus, the associate superintendent of education services, and Douglas have been filling in for him, Douglas said at the Nov. 17 meeting.

While the district is currently interviewing to fill these vacant positions, “everybody … right now is feeling overwhelmed,” Douglas said during the Nov. 17 meeting.

Young, who advocated for a more “holistic” review of vacancies before positions were “backfilled,” said that filling the positions could be an opportunity to review the needs of the district, specifically, the consolidation of positions in education and administrative services. This consolidation was recommended in a review of the organizational structure of the district office by the School Services of California, which was presented at a board meeting on June 23.

During the Nov. 17 meeting, Young attributed the vacancies, in part, to the pandemic, saying that the district office was “hugely impacted.”

TPHS student School Board Representative Julia Liu (12) agreed.

“Our staff is working really hard to bring us back … from COVID,” Liu said. “Going forward, our district is going to be better.”

When the new board meets in December, they will also begin a search for a permanent superintendent.

Currently, the district hopes to have a new superintendent in place by the end of June, according to Young.

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