Berkeley school board seeks replacement director

BUSD headquarters on Bonar Street. Photo: Kaia Diringer

BUSD headquarters on Bonar St.: the board has posted an application for a new director to replace Leah Wilson. Photo: Kaia Diringer

Berkeley Unified School District’s board Wednesday night agreed on the procedure to appoint a replacement director for Leah Wilson, who resigned earlier this month. The board has posted an application for directors on its website, with responses due by April 15. The board plans to make an appointment at a special May 1 meeting, with the regular board meeting on May 8 as a fallback in case agreement can’t be reached.

The Berkeley city charter allows the board make an appointment within 60 days of a vacancy occurring. After that point, the County Supervisor can order a special election. 

Applicants for the vacant directorship are asked to answer nine questions, each in 200 words or less:

  1. Why do you want to be a School Board Director?
  2. What strengths would you bring to the School Board?
  3. What are your three top priorities for Berkeley public schools?
  4. How would you work with your fellow Board members and Superintendent to address these priorities?
  5. How does your experience and knowledge lend itself to promoting the District goals of addressing the opportunity gap and the 2020 Vision?
  6. What are the greatest assets and strengths of BUSD?
  7. What do you see as your primary role and responsibilities as a School Board Director?
  8. How does an effective School Board ensure opportunities for families and community members to express a diverse range of views to inform Board deliberations on important policy issues?
  9. What has been your involvement with public schools and/or in the community?

Once applications have been filed, the interim co-superintendents Javetta Cleveland and Neil Smith will provide an alphabetical list of applicants and their applications. The four elected directors will reply with those candidates they feel should be finalists — candidates who are supported by at least two of the directors become finalists, subject to a vote of the board at its April 24 meeting.

At the special May 1 board meeting, each finalist has three minutes for a speech. The newly appointed director will serve out Wilson’s term, which expires next year.

The school board also elected Karen Hemphill to complete Wilson’s term as president of the board, a position which rotates among the BUSD board directors.

During the day on Wednesday, the school board started interviewing shortlisted candidates for the long-vacant superintendent position. According to one director, the board is still on target to make an appointment in the next month.

Berkeley school board president Wilson resigns [03.18.13]
School budget ‘cautiously positive’ despite challenges [03.13.13]
Berkeley teachers’ bonus plan rebuffed by district [03.07.13]
School board launches new superintendent search [02.13.13]
Fight relaunched to save school nutrition programs [11.19.12]
Berkeley schools show gains on standard tests [10.12.12]

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  • PragmaticProgressive

    How does your experience and knowledge lend itself to promoting the District goals of addressing the opportunity gap and the 2020 Vision?

    Send in the clones.

    When did the “achievement gap” morph into the “opportunity gap” ? All students at BUSD have the same opportunities at school, even those whose families steal their way into the District. Do the directors see themselves embarking on some grand scheme to make up for deficiencies in parenting at home, in whatever cities home may be?

  • BerkeleyPariah

    Glad there is someone not afraid to speak the truth!

  • guest

    Does this mean that BUSD will start offering additional resources to poor white and asian students as well?

  • guest

    The opportunity most egregiously denied black students is to embrace the values dominant in our society. They’re raised in an oppositional culture which , propagates the slave/master conflict and the anger and alienation it breeds.

  • guest

    The kids succeeding in BUSD school learn in school and at home. The ones failing don’t. f you really want equal opportunity, you’ll have to do home audits and offer training for parents who aren’t supporting their kids efforts. The chain must be broken somewhere, someday. Only those who stand to benefit financially would propose the schools can do it all.

  • PragmaticProgressive


  • Guest

    Oppositional. Toxic.

  • bah

    ruh roh, you guys are daring the PC censors to come delete this entire thread.

  • guest

    I don’t think so. Political correctness is dooming black kids to lifetimes of semi-literacy.

  • guest

    The Civil War re-enactment that passes for self esteem building at BHS is staged by small school teachers who believe they’ve joined the Peace Corp in some distant land and are determined to guard the natives from advanced civilization.

    Outcomes are what we need! KIds who can read, write at grade level. Not intentions. Outcomes! Not propaganda. Outcomes! Kids who are drawn to math and sciences.

    We need less programming and more basic teaching. We need parental accountability and involvement. We need teachers and administrators who focus on results and not loving these kids off a cliff at graduation.

  • guest

    “The Opportunity Gap”?!

    What a sick joke. The teacher’s union and their puppet administration and school board have hit a new low in their effort to avoid responsibility for graduating our kids with the most expensive substandard education in the country.

    With all the money we’ve given (Yes, GIVEN; by voluntarily heaping assessments on ourselves, on top of taxes…after opening our schools anyone who wishes to attend…the educational forces that be want us to believe there’s shortage of opportunity…it’s just sick.

    It’s a “Responsibility Gap”! Teachers and programs need to be evaluated on test results not political back scratching. Parents need to get and stay involved, demanding their kids leave high school able to read and write.