School board hires firm to help find new superintendent

DOWNEY - Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA), a national search firm based in Rosemont, Illinois that specializes in looking for suitable candidates to fill superintendent and other top-echelon school district positions, has won over four other competing search firms and will conduct the search for a replacement for Dr. Wendy Doty, who has announced her retirement effective the end of March next year. The board's choice came after the five search firms made their presentations in a special morning board meeting Aug. 7 that lasted almost four hours.

The four other search firms, equally possessing lots of relevant experience and equally prestigious, were: Leadership Associates, which operates out of Mission Viejo and La Quinta; Ray and Associates, Inc., with corporate offices in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and a western office in Laguna Niguel; The Cosca Group, based in Fairfield, CA; and Dave Long & Associates, headquartered in Laguna Beach.

"What tipped the balance in HYA's favor," according to board member Willie Gutierrez, "was, one, the fact that HYA seemed to emphasize more the roles of unions, PTA groups, the city, and the like, in the information-gathering process aimed at identifying the desired characteristics in the superintendent. Also, HYA's consultants gave the impression that they were more knowledgeable about the goings-on in Downey, about the district, about its culture. They seemed to have done more homework than the others."

Because of time considerations and to offset factors that could cause unforeseen delays in the search process, it was agreed that the sooner the process begins, the better. The search process could get rolling as early as this Monday, as HYA and the board conduct its first planning session to customize the search strategy according to the district's particular needs and requirements.

The 1 p.m. special meeting on Monday will, among other things, touch on dovetailing district and consultant approaches to the search, the search timeline, the criteria in the choice of a superintendent, and the outlines of a communication plan designed to keep the board informed about the progress of the search every step of the way, and as a mechanism to alert the consultants in future to any issues that may arise.

HYA consultants assigned to the search are Dr. Pedro Garcia and Dr. Rudy Castruita, both currently professors of clinical education at USC's Rossier School of Education, and both experienced top-tier school district/county administrators. Garcia's most recent full-time assignment prior to USC was superintendent of the Metropolitan School District in Nashville, TN while Castruita's was superintendent of the San Diego County Office of Education.

After the initial planning session will follow selection criteria development, the recruitment phase, the selection phase, and the appointment phase. There's even a provision, if desired, for a transition plan for the new superintendent, who is slated to assume office on April 1, 2013.

Since the search will be open to inside candidates, Roger Brossmer, assistant superintendent of certificated human resources and concurrent mayor of Downey, said he will throw his hat in the ring.

"I have a great job," he said. "I'll be honored to be a candidate for superintendent."

********** Published: September 13, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 22