Each summer, before the long break in school board club meetings, the trustees hand over control of district business to the superintendent. The super’s power is not carte blanche – in many important circumstances, he is forced to get club member approval for decisions.

Such is the case with the musical chairs that has become a hallmark of this administration. Yesterday, however, the staff shuffling hit a new high, or low, depending on one’s perspective.

In one fell swoop, the super announced five key moves, which are:

  • Sara Coley is now the “Coordinator, Student Services. Coley served as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) as a “restorative practices trainer” for staff districtwide.(I know what you’re wondering: What the $&@# is a “restorative practices trainer?” According to my research, “Restorative practices focus on repairing the harm to relationships rather than piling on more punishment for violations.” – John Bouton and Laura Mirsky, “Restorative Practices as a Tool for Organizational Change.”)

  • Megan Brown is now the Director, Certificated Personnel. “She will be responsible for certificated employee recruitment, staffing, professional development, and facilitating appropriate resolution to complaints through the district’s complaint policies and procedures.” 

    “… facilitating appropriate resolution to complaints”… that’s gobbledygook for “handling complaints.”

  • Gabriel Del Real is the new Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction.  No description of his duties is provided in the announcement.
  • Stacy de Boom-Howard is the new principal of Adams Elementary, replacing Del Real.
  • Carrie Gammel is the new principal of Pomona Elementary. Gammel is moving to Pomona from Lincoln.

All of these changes must be approved by the club at their meeting on August 28. And make no mistake, they will all be approved by a 7-0 vote. It’s in the vault….

The whole charade would pass without any notice in these dog days of summer when no one is paying attention, however, there are at least a couple of questions…

  1. Costa Mesa gets two new principals without holding the usual fake community meetings during which the district pretends to want local input but doesn’t really care what you think.
  2. Who is new principal at Lincoln? The news report doesn’t state the replacement so does that mean that Lincoln-area residents will have the joy of a fake meeting? If so, why are there no fake meetings for the two Costa Mesa schools?

My guess is that this is not the end of staff shuffling. It’s an election year and time now to get all of the ducks in line to try to help preserve the status quo. You can also count on fluffy announcements, fake meetings with a lot of chin-stroking and concerned looks, and – finally – some attention being paid to a program to identify troubled teens.

All of this is meant to provide incumbents with talking points during their campaigns, but it won’t help. I compiled The List as news to some voters and a reminder to others that things in the once-proud N-MUSD are far from good. Here’s the link:


Steve Smith