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Santa Barbara School Board Hires Third Firm in Superintendent Search

District officials vote to select Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates after the top two companies withdrew from consideration

The top two search firms chosen to help select a replacement for retiring Superintendent Brian Sarvis withdrew their proposals last week, leading the Santa Barbara school board to vote Tuesday night to hire Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates.

Sarvis told Noozhawk last Friday that Ray and Associates Inc. had withdrawn its proposal when the school district offered it the job, and Leadership Associates later e-mailed the district doing the same.

Calls to Ray and Associates’ offices in Iowa went unreturned this week, and Leadership Associates said its schedule was filling up with work elsewhere.

Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates was initially dismissed because of concern over the Oxnard School District candidate who was placed on administrative leave within eight months of getting the job. Even with a one-year guarantee to try again, the district hasn’t decided yet whether it will take the firm up on that offer, school board president Annette Cordero said Tuesday.

District counsel Craig Price said his firm researched both remaining firms online and didn’t find any concerning items such as lawsuits or bankruptcies.

The board voted 4-0 to go with Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, with Susan Deacon still absent on her trip to China. The search will cost about $31,500. Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates’ proposal includes references from hundreds of districts, including 47 in California.

Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, the board approved adding back two furlough days for administrative staff from one-time state funds. The furloughs are an ongoing cost-saving measure, and with the upcoming budget discussions, Sarvis said it’s likely the furlough days will come back next year.

“It’s an appropriate gesture, especially since next year looks pretty dire,” Cordero said.

Among this week’s personnel items was the resignation of secondary district special-education director Michele Britton Bass, who began working for the district in January 2010. The program is plagued with staff turnover and a laundry list of recommendations from a consulting firm that the district has been implementing for the past year and a half.

Regarding a specific student discipline case, the mother of an expelled boy and her attorney alleged that the process is full of due process violations. The recording of the boy’s administrative panel hearing “malfunctioned,” and the woman said the board should reconsider the procedures put in place.

The board voted to have the panel hear the original case again. The school board’s role in suspension and expulsion discipline cases is to consider recommendations suggested by the administrative hearings, which all happens in closed session meetings.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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