… And the superintendent showed up.

Before getting into the details of last night’s community input meeting at Cal El, it should be noted that Supt. Frederick Navarro was there. This was a good development and I hope he plans to attend more such meetings and take a more active part in these discussions.

In a slight turn from the usual style of these meetings, which is to place little round stickers on flip charts, a sheet with four questions was passed out to the approximately 100 people in attendance.

The sheet had four questions that the administration is asking in order to help them decide the new principal at Cal El. The survey is also online at: https://california.schoolloop.com/news/view?d=x&id=1467792491359&group_id=1209231335935&return_url=1468330971081

In general, parents wanted to know why their beloved principal was yanked from Cal and assigned to Mariners. One comment was directed toward the possibility that the decision was made because Mariners is in Newport Beach and they are in a “larger tax bracket” and can make “larger donations” and “have more influence.”

One attendee wondered why the students and parents at Cal are being made to suffer for mistakes made at another school.

It’s a good question, one that received substantial applause, but the question was not fully answered.

The administration representatives leading the meeting, Navarro and HR director Russell Lee-Sung made a big deal about their credentials and their vast experience in the process of choosing principals. When I offered that their experience and this proven process failed to provide a good match at Mariners, one attendee questioned my right to be at the meeting because I do not have children at the school.

Funny, I thought, no other attendee was asked whether he or she was a parent of children at the school. But, that’s a typical reaction when one has clearly struck a nerve – avoid the issue and attack the questioner.

My question was answered with, “It’s not an exact science,” which is not much of an answer and told me that the administration has not reviewed the Mariners process to determine where, or even if, a mistake was made. Instead, they were just going to go through the same motions at Cal.

Another sharp attendee said in so many words that a survey was not needed – just get someone like Matt Broesamle.

My biggest disconnect was between an early comment by the administration that the “worst thing we could do is rush the decision.” But that’s exactly what they did at Mariners. Instead of inserting a temporary head at Mariners for the last few days of school, they yanked Broesamle from Cal without notice. In that scenario, it would have been Mariners that is now undergoing the process they’re undertaking at Cal.

There was another disconnect. We were told that internal transfers do not include community input – that is reserved for times when an outside selection is being considered. So… what’s the difference? Why shouldn’t parents have input when it’s a transfer, too?

Ultimately, it was important for the superintendent to hear directly how upset everyone was and to allow the attendees to vent.

But I have no more faith in the process than when I walked into the room. Perhaps Cal will get a good fit for a principal. Maybe not. Clearly, though, the process on which they have relied for so long is flawed and there does not seem to be any interest in reviewing it to correct errors.

Steve Smith

 

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