BHS principal Scuderi moves to assistant superintendent

Pascuale Scuderi at Berkeley High. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Berkeley High principal Pasquale Scuderi will become district assistant superintendent at the end of this school year. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Pasquale Scuderi, principal of Berkeley High School since 2010, will become Berkeley Unified’s assistant superintendent for educational services at the end of this school year. Scuderi will take over the role from Neil Smith who is retiring after 25 years with the district.

“The upside to this is that I could move along my career trajectory and still remain connected to the work we’re doing here at Berkeley High,” Scuderi said. “But it’s certainly a little bittersweet. I’ve not really connected yet with what it will mean not being with the kids on a daily basis.” 

BUSD Superintendent Donald Evans said he believes Scuderi can play a key role in helping Berkeley develop into a “world-class district.”

“One of the things I like about Pasquale is he’s very creative, very innovative,” said Evans, who only took up his post last summer. Evans cited particularly Scuderi’s success in breaking down silos within Berkeley High, and “getting the whole school talking the same language. Moving a school that size tells me that he can move a district.”

In an email to the Berkeley High community today, Scuderi noted a number of achievements during his tenure.

“We have raised attendance rates across the school, assessed our students’ academic writing abilities on an unprecedented scale, dropped suspension rates, steadily grown our academic performance index over the last four years, and strengthened teaching capacity as well as developed coherent instructional language across our vast and diverse faculty.”

Scuderi’s first year as principal, the 2010-11 school year, was marked by a series of gun-related incidents at BHS. But he marked a clear change from previous administrations by communicating both good news and bad swiftly and transparently to the school community (including, sporadically, through his use of the high school’s Twitter account).

Scuderi points to his emphasis on creating stronger internal processes as an important achievement.

“Four years ago there were a lot of great ideas on this campus,” he said. “I think we now have some processes and language for how to make those ideas actionable. Our instructional practice as a collective has really gotten better. This is a huge, dynamic system. If it’s going to be good, it has to be in a cycle of continual improvement.”

Evans said the district is advertising the position starting today. He expects to look at both internal and external candidates, and plans to hire a new principal by the end of May.

“I’m open for the best person that can lead that school,” Evans said. “I want someone who is going to work with the teachers, work with the community, but someone who is going to be kid-centered, making sure the kids are the number one priority.”

“Whoever walks into my office is going to have a very cohesive administration team to work with,” Scuderi said. “There is a lot of continuity that will remain here.”

Scuderi said that he’d heard some mixed reaction to today’s announcement.

“A parent told me this morning that their child said, ‘Oh that’s too bad, but maybe now we can have Rally Day,'” he said.

Illegal enrollment is boon and burden to Berkeley schools (04.08.14)
Berkeley High expands with the opening of a new building (03.19.14)
New Berkeley superintendent Donald Evans: “This is my ministry” (07.11.13)
Pasquale Scuderi on his first year as head of Berkeley High (07.07.11)

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  • deirdre

    School Board: please tell us you’ve learned some lessons after the lingering drama of the recent superintendent search.

  • Mike Olson

    My kids are graduates now, but I am a big fan of Mr. Scuderi. Wonderful for him and for the district that he’s taking a bigger job. Unfortunate for the high school to lose him.

  • bgal4

    Inevitable! Remember back to the drama of hiring a principal after Slemp. Scuderi was the district personnel manager and when the first attempt failed Smith and Huyett place Scuderi in the principal chair. I attended the BHS parent/community meeting asking what qualities we wanted in a principal, I said integrity. I still believe integrity is undervalued and often lacking in Berkeley.

  • jjohannson

    So are you saying that Principal Scuderi has not operated with integrity at BHS? Strikes me as a scurrilous insinuation. Whatever you feel may be lacking in the Berkeley schools (seemingly everything plus some other stuff you haven’t thought of yet…), I only ever saw Scuderi busting his a** 12-16 hours a day to make BHS a better and safer school. To whatever extent he has fallen short, I’d be highly disinclined to pin it on his integrity.

    The Rose Garden beckons…

  • Danny Upshaw

    Winner is as winner does.

  • Dr

    Well, he was a great improvement over Slemp
    For sure however he is so much part of the
    Machine that it will just be business as usual
    And Evans will have it easier. Finding another principal
    At BHS is going to be very difficult but they will prob
    Promote a VP for the job. Unfortunately I have a kid there
    For 2 more years, ugh!

  • Completely_Serious

    Well, I do recall they learned you can’t start a search in the late Spring, as all the good candidates are committed for the Fall.

  • suckatash

    Well, this happened on Scuderi’s watch.

    I never got the impression that he handled it as well as it could have been.

  • Berkeley Observer

    Either Evans already has a successor picked out, or he’s delusional to think he’s going to hire a new principal by the end of May. One month is not enough time to start from scratch attracting, reviewing, and interviewing candidates.

    Scuderi is an excellent communicator, and will be a tough act to follow.

  • bgal4

    your outrage is misplaced, as is your assumption.

  • Dudley Smith

    Do you have a valediction boyo?