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PUSD Conducts First Community Meeting in New Superintendent Search Process

Board aims to approve new superintendent, contract by May of 2024

Published on Thursday, November 30, 2023 | 6:35 am

In the first of two currently scheduled public meetings, a small group of PUSD parents met at John Muir High School Wednesday to provide the District with input on the hiring of a new Superintendent to replace Dr. Brian McDonald. 

Former Superintendent McDonald, who served in that position for nine years, left the District on June 30. 

The meeting was led by Sandy Sanchez Thorstenson, senior partner at Leadership Associates, the executive search firm hired by PUSD to manage the search for McDonald’s replacement.

Thorstenson told the group of parents that the PUSD “wanted an inclusive and comprehensive process. They didn’t want to rush it and they didn’t want to have limited feedback. Quite the opposite.”

Along with Thorstenson, two other members of the search firm were concurrently meeting with Special Education parents and Spanish-speaking parents.

Thorstenson informed the audience that she has been with the search firm for seven years, following a long career from teacher to principal in the Whittier Unified School District.

Thorstenson then outlined the three main questions to be answered that evening: 

“What do you think are the most important characteristics or qualities, personal and professional, in the new superintendent?”

“What do you think the District’s most important strengths are?”

“What are the most important challenges facing Pasadena Unified?”

Among the comments and suggestions from parents, Quinn Baker said the most important trait for the new superintendent was accountability.

Said Baker, “We’re looking for someone who will say what they’re going to do, actually do those things, and then share what they’ve done. It feels like all too often plans can be flowery and pretty, and nothing comes of it.”

Thorstenson outlined the timeline for the selection of the new superintendent, explaining that the PUSD Board wanted the new superintendent to begin work on July 1.  

“There is plenty of time for recruiting and vetting to take place,” she said. Thorstenson reported that the position has been advertised on its own 1200-subscriber website, as well as in EdCal & Leadership magazine, the official bi-weekly publication for the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA). 

Those ads will run in the December 4 and January 8, 2024 issues, she said. 

March 15 is the deadline for applications, said Thorstenson, and interviews will begin on April 27, 2024. The Board will approve the new contract at its regularly scheduled meeting in May of 2024.

The group has already received 35 requests for applications for the position, she said. 

An additional forum is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30 at Pasadena High School, 2925 E. Sierra Madre Blvd.

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