Tuesday, May 24 , 2016, 12:03 am | A Few Clouds 56º

Lompoc District Sends ‘Reassignment Letters’ to All School Administrators

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

Pink slips have gone out to all principals, assistant principals and directors within the Lompoc Unified School District — a total of 30 employees — with the intent of possibly reorganizing and reassigning the administrators, according to the new superintendent.

Trevor McDonald, who started his tenure as superintendent of Lompoc schools last fall, said the district sent out what he called “reassignment letters” to all certificated administrators before March 15, the deadline needed for notification according to state education code.

The reason was not fiscal, he said, but rather part of a larger district push to innovate and improve the performance of its 9,800 students in K-12, with leadership at each of its 15 elementary, middle and high schools playing a key role in that success.

“Per education code, we have to give administrators notice of a potential reassignment on or before March 15,” McDonald told Noozhawk. “If districts don’t do that, then they legally can’t move administrators.

“My sole intent is to allow the district the flexibility to match the right leaders up with the right schools, all under the umbrella of what’s best for kids.”

Whereas a pink slip for a teacher means layoff, he said, a reassignment letter for an administrator means moving to another position, a different school or even back into the classroom as a teacher.

Assistant superintendents and the district’s adult education program were not included in the shakeup.

Since all Lompoc administrators have tenure, he said, they would not be laid off but given the opportunity to move into classrooms. All or none of the administrators could be moved, something McDonald hopes to determine no later than May 1 through observation, etc.

McDonald notified administrators of upcoming changes in person and in an email.

“After assessing our strengths and shortcomings over the course of this academic year, it is clear that if we are to collectively make an immediate and significant impact to boost student performance across the district, it will require change, not only to our approach to student learning, but also in the allocation of many of our resources, including personnel,” he wrote in the email. “I assure you, however, that any changes in Lompoc Unified will be made with the sole interest of what is best for our students.”

The letters are an administrative function that requires no board of education action until the superintendent brings all 2014-15 school-year assignments before it for approval later this school year, McDonald said.

McDonald, who came to Lompoc from a similar post at Greenfield Union School District in Monterey County, said some administrators might misconstrue the meaning of the letters because the district hasn’t historically sent them out, typically informally asking administrators to move positions. He said the practice was common, and has been used in past districts where he’s worked.

“It could be, ‘This doesn’t seem like a good fit, and we’re going to reassign you to the classroom,’” McDonald said. “I’ve communicated clearly with the administrative team. It boils down to a philosophical belief with superintendents. Are we content with every leader we have in every position? Or do we want to allow ourselves some flexibility?”

McDonald said many administrators have reacted positively to the letters, seeing them as a way to re-examine whether the right people are in the right positions.

Since McDonald came on last fall, the Lompoc district has made significant investments in training for its teachers and staff and in a $350,000 computer-based language and literacy program, Imagine Learning — all to ready for implementation of Common Core State Standards.

If McDonald decides to shift around administrators, he needs to do so on or before June 30, and would ideally notify affected employees as soon as possible so they could adjust accordingly.

He said he realizes some might not like their assignments and want to leave the district.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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