Objective Qualifications for Superintendent Search are MIA

Late last year the PUSD School Board hired HYA Executive Search to perform the search to replace Connie Hubbard who is retiring this year.

Modern job postings have separate sections for "job duties and responsibilities" and the more objective "qualifications", both required and preferred.

At a prior board meeting that I attended, Board President Swenson explained that the Board would like community input on "attributes" for the next superintendent and I left the meeting thinking this concept would include input on more objective desired qualifications for the next superintendent.

HYA Solicits Public Input only on Duties and Responsibilities

In a recent survey conducted by HYA they primarily requested feedback on characteristics which they refer to what most people would call "job duties and responsibilities":

  • Listen to and effectively represent the interests and concerns of students, staff, parents, and community members.
  • Be visible throughout the District and actively engaged in community life.
  • Maintain positive and collaborative working relationships with the school board and its members.
  • Effectively plan and manage the long-term financial health of the District.
  • Identify, confront, and resolve issues and concerns in a timely manner.
  • Involve appropriate stakeholders in the decision-making process.
  • Act in accordance with the District’s mission, vision, and core beliefs.
  • Seek a high level of engagement with principals and other school-site leaders.
  • Increase academic performance and accountability at all levels and for all its students, including special needs populations.
  • Utilize student achievement data to drive the District’s instructional decision-making.
  • Be an effective manager of the District’s day-to-day operations.
  • Promote high expectations for all students and personnel.
  • Have a clear vision of what is required to provide exemplary educational services and implement effective change.
  • Hold a deep appreciation for diversity and the importance of providing safe and caring school environments.
  • Lead in an encouraging, participatory, and team-focused manner.
  • Align budgets, long-range plans, and operational procedures with the District’s vision, mission, and goals.
  • Provide meaningful guidance for systematic and comprehensive district-wide curriculum, instructional services, assessment programs, and professional development.
  • Communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and in a variety of ways.
  • Foster a positive professional climate of mutual trust and respect among faculty, staff, and administrators.
  • Guide the operation and maintenance of school facilities to ensure secure, safe, and clean school environments that support learning.
  • Encourage a sense of shared responsibility among all stakeholders regarding success in student learning.
  • Hold a deep understanding of the teaching/learning process and of the importance of educational technology.
  • Develop strong relationships with constituents, local government, area businesses, media, and community partners.
  • Recruit, employ, evaluate, and retain effective personnel throughout the District and its schools.
  • Strive for continuous improvement in all areas of the District.

The survey can be filled out here: http://www.ecrasurvey.com/piedmont and includes 2 open ended questions where one could enter desired qualifications.

However based on the communities they serve on their website, HYA appears to only incorporate community feedback on duties and responsibilities (which they call "characteristics") in their search for superintendents, see: http://www.ecragroup.com/active-searches .

Even their EDJOIN.ORG posting for our PUSD superintendent excludes any mention of qualifications, see: http://www.edjoin.org/viewPosting.aspx?postingID=640347&countyID=1&onlin... . Other EDJOIN postings often require transcripts with degrees listed for example.

I'm sure HYA does collect a candidates qualifications at the time of applying for the position.

However if the job posting does not contain exemplary qualifications it is hard to believe candidates possessing those qualifications would apply for the job or would be actively recruited for.

PUSD has used Objective Qualifications for previous hires

As an example, take a look at the PUSD job posting for the Chief Business Official hired last summer: http://www.edjoin.org/JobDescription.aspx?descriptionID=133258 . That job posting included a section on objective qualifications:

Preferred Education and Experience:

  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree, or a higher degree, from a fully accredited college or university in Business Management or Public Administration; master’s degree preferred
  • Five to ten years of financial and business management experience with the day-to-day operations of an organization, experience in strategic planning and execution preferred
  • Three years of significant knowledge and direct experience with California school finance accounting, experience in computer-based accounting applications (Standardized Account Code Structure (SACS),)
  • CASBO certification is preferred
  • United States Certified Public Account (CPA) preferred

Need for Objective Qualifications

If we want our kids to get into top tier universities, do we not want our superintendent to have graduated from one?

If we want our kids to be prepared for the scientific information age, should the superintendent have an undergraduate degree in a STEM discipline?

If we want our superintendent to excel in communication with the public, should we ask for a high verbal GRE score?

If we want our superintendent to understand the pitfalls of creative financing, should we ask for a high math GRE score?

What other standards can we apply?

Piedmont is an excellent school district and we need to not risk losing that status. The best way is to aim with high standards at the time of hiring.

If anyone complains about the quality of a teacher after they have tenure, we need to observe the hierarchy within the district. The superintendent helped hire the principals who hired or mismanaged the teacher being complained about.

If we hire the superintendent with objectively low standards, we will fail parents for years to come.

These are many of the reasons why it is so important to have objective high standards for our superintendent.


It appears that recruiting for our superintendent is focused on intangible and subjective feeling by HYA and the school board that a candidate can perform the job duties listed.

Without listing objective required or preferred qualifications for the position, these matters will all be handled outside of public view and without incorporating public input.

This is why Objective Qualifications are MIA (missing in action) in the search for our next superintendent.

We need to send out a search party to find what happened to these. Was this done intentionally to help certain candidates or an oversight of the board?

Ideally we should conduct a survey on what the public feels those objective qualifications should be.

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