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Two finalists are in the running for San Diego Unified superintendent

San Diego Unified interim Superintendent Lamont Jackson speaks on the first day of the current school year Aug. 30.
San Diego Unified School District interim Superintendent Lamont Jackson speaks on the first day of the current school year Aug. 30.
(Jarrod Valliere / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The finalists are interim Superintendent Lamont Jackson and Highline Public Schools Superintendent Susan Enfield.

The San Diego Unified School District board announced two finalists for the district’s superintendent job — the man who is running it on an interim basis and an out-of-state candidate from a much smaller district.

The board said Dec. 14 that the finalists are Lamont Jackson, who had been a San Diego Unified area superintendent before currently serving as interim superintendent, and Susan Enfield, superintendent of Highline Public Schools in Burien, Wash., south of Seattle. That district’s website says its 35 schools serve more than 17,500 students in several communities and employ more than 2,000 staff members.

Enfield previously was chief academic officer and interim superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. She also was a teacher and school administrator in Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash. In November, Enfield was named Superintendent of the Year by the Washington Association of School Administrators.

On Monday, Jan. 10, the finalists will participate in a day of community forums and Q&A sessions. The board will select the superintendent later that month.

Whoever is hired will be in charge of leading California’s second-largest school district with more than 170 schools and about 97,000 students.

The superintendent will lead the district at a time when San Diego’s schools are still helping students recover academically and emotionally from the COVID-19 pandemic. The superintendent also will take the helm as the district is implementing a COVID vaccination mandate, which could lead to some students and staff being kept out of campuses.

The school board has been searching for a new permanent superintendent since the district’s former leader, Cindy Marten, was chosen in January to become U.S. deputy secretary of education.

Jackson has served as interim superintendent since May.

Jackson has worked for San Diego Unified since 1998, including as a teacher and as a principal at three middle schools. He was hired into the district’s central office as a human-resources staffing administrator, then chief human-resources officer from 2010 to 2013.

For the past eight years, Jackson has served as an area superintendent, primarily overseeing the elementary and middle schools in the Morse, Mira Mesa, Clairemont and University City school clusters.

A board-appointed committee that began with about four dozen members has overseen the superintendent search. The committee screened applicants and forwarded semifinalists to the board for interviews.

The committee has kept details of the applicant pool secret. Officials declined to say how many people applied for the job, what states people applied from and what questions were used in the screening process.

The school board picked the superintendent finalists during two closed sessions last week. The finalists were chosen unanimously, trustee Richard Barrera said.


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