Katrina Hasan Hamilton, Co-Chair of Black Minds Matter Advocacy Group of San Diego, a group of African-American parents, community members and educators, penned a letter to Councilmember Shirley Weber this week. The letter expressed the group’s ‘grave concern’ regarding ‘actions of Sweetwater Union High School District’s lack of transparency in opening up the search process to include external candidates when hiring a Superintendent for Sweetwater Union High School District’. The letter below, shared exclusively with The San Diego Voice & Viewpoint, is as follows:
Assembly member Dr. Shirley Weber
CA State Assembly District 79
1350 Front Street, Suite 6046
San Diego, CA 92101
Dearest Dr. Weber,
On behalf of the Black Minds Matter Advocacy Group of San Diego (BMMAG- SD), a group of African-American parents, community members and educators with a collective experience in P-16 public, private and charter schools, I truly pray this email finds you and your family well. First and foremost, thank you for representing our community here in San Diego. Today I am writing to share our grave concern regarding the actions of Sweetwater Union High School District’s lack of transparency in opening up the search process to include external candidates when hiring a Superintendent for Sweetwater Union High School District.
We have learned that SUHSD’s Board might appoint our current interim superintendent, Dr. Moises Aguirre as SUHSD’s permanent superintendent without any consideration for other highly qualified internal administrators, including Dr. Joe Fulcher and Dr. Vernon Moore or including external candidates to apply and be given serious consideration. While Board President Nick Segura publicly informed the San Diego Tribune in October that the process for hiring the next superintendent will occur in early 2021, ambiguity regarding the Superintendent search leaves us with great uncertainty.
With recent incidents of two African American teachers being called the “n” word on Zoom and no accountability, coupled with downsizing the Equity, Culture and Support Services Department at a time when Anti-Black racism is running rampant, we must ensure that anti-Blackness is eradicated at every level starting from the top.
Therefore the position of Superintendent in SUHSD must be opened up to include external candidates who have proven track records of being inclusive for all children and families, especially African-Americans at a time when, on a national level we are discriminated against in schools at higher rates than any other sub-group (GAO, 2018), including in SUHSD.
Although SUHSD’s current Board Policy states: “the board process must include consideration of the scope of the [superintendent] search — such as whether to promote internally or expand the search to include external candidates — as well as how to involve the community, how to recruit and screen applicants, and other steps “to ensure a fair selection process and a smooth transition to new leadership,” our advocacy group that consists of parents, educators and taxpayers are requesting for SDCOE (Dr. Paul Gothold) to assist in the RFP process and pay for the search for our next leader especially since Board President Nick Segura has suggested the district does not have “the budget” to do so.
Dr. Weber, we urge your office to act in assisting us with this matter and to ensure no closed-door appointments occur for the sake of equity and justice. This will help guide the SUHSD Board of Trustees in not repeating actions as was the case on April 27, 2015) for this most important position, thereby allowing all qualified leaders within the district, the city, county, state and nation an opportunity to apply.
Sweetwater students, parents, families, and community members must have a voice and be able to choose who will lead their district. Public schools have a duty to educate (Dixson, Perry 2016) and educators are needed, now, more than ever to facilitate consensus building about the kind of society, citizens, and institutions we need and want (Herrera, 2018).
Again, on behalf of the African American and Black parents and community members of Chula Vista who are advocating for our students and employees in Sweetwater, we thank you for helping us to ensure there is equity and equality in this district for all people, especially people of African descent. We are awaiting your prompt response by Thursday before contacting State Superintendent Tony Thurmond for further action.
Katrina Hasan Hamilton
Co-Chair, Black Minds Matter Advocacy Group of San Diego