Burbank Unified Names New Superintendent Amidst Teacher Complaints

Burbank Unified Names New Superintendent Amidst Teacher Complaints

Apr 22, 2015

CONTENTIOUS CASTING: The Burbank Unified School District voted to appoint Matt Hill its new superintendent on Friday after a long and contentious meeting during which one board member abruptly resigned.

Hill, a top official in former LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy’s office, sat and listened as scores of Burbank teachers professed their anger at his proposed appointment.

“We paid…for an exhaustive nationwide search,” LA County Teacher of the Year Jill Tobin told the LA School Report, “to hire a buddy and a crony down the freeway. And if he doesn’t work out, he’s going to cost us the sum of five starting teachers’ salaries.”

The vote comes after multi-week efforts from teachers to prevent Hill’s appointment, who cite his leading role in the botched iPad and MISIS rollouts and his close ties to pro-charter organizations as reasons for concern. After a number of teachers spoke up Friday night to castigate the board, member Dave Kemp became so upset at the teachers’ barrage of angry words that he unexpectedly resigned his post and walked out of the meeting.

“I am so ashamed of the people I always thought were such good friends and former colleagues, that mean so much to me, that at this time, I can no longer be a part of this,” Kemp said before leaving.

The vote came on the heels of reports that the Security and Exchange Commission questioned LA Unified on its use of bond money to purchase iPads preloaded with Pearson software, and LA Unified’s announcement that it is seeking a multimillion-dollar refund from Apple, Inc. Hill currently serves as Chief Strategy Officer at LAUSD.

“People knocked me and said I wasn't good enough--the same arguments that people have been making across the country that teachers aren't good enough," Hill said in a speech immediately after the vote. "But I still have the conviction that here in Burbank we’re going to do something different, we're going to prove them wrong...We’re going to see somebody with a business background work with the unions and change the national narrative.”

The teachers union has filed four Brown Act violations with the District Attorneys’ office in an attempt to postpone Hill’s appointment until a new board is seated.

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