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Harding Principal Vanesha Davis Submits Resignation, But District Hopes She Reconsiders

Davis joined the school in October 2012 and took over as acting principal in November 2012 when her boss was put on administrative leave

The principal of Harding University Partnership School has announced her resignation, but the Santa Barbara Unified School District is trying to get her to stay.

Vanesha Davis, who took over as acting principal in November 2012 after her boss was put on administrative leave, said she was leaving last week but it’s not final, according to the district.

“She did announce her resignation, but we hope she reconsiders,” Superintendent Dave Cash said Monday. “It has been very tough for her living in Santa Barbara with her family in the Los Angeles area.”

Davis came to the area from the Los Angeles Unified School District, where she worked as a teacher and then assistant principal. 

For now, she is planning to stay with the district through the end of June, Cash said.

Davis started work as an assistant principal at Harding University Partnership School in October 2012 and became acting principal on Nov. 16, 2012, after then-Principal Nuh Kimbwala was put on paid leave.

Kimbwala was placed on paid leave after an undisclosed incident at the school, but no charges were ever filed. The incident was initially reported to Santa Barbara County Child Welfare Services, which then recommended that the school file a police report.

Parents expressed concerns about Kimbwala to the district from the start, feeling disconnected from the school compared to the methods of his predecessor, Sally Kingston, who was with the school for seven years.

Davis held the school’s first International Baccalaureate exhibition, where students presented their works in front of fellow students and parents, and held “Coffee with the principal” events to meet with parents in her first year on the job. Last July, she was officially made principal of Harding.

She was well-liked by parents and staff, former Harding parent Brian Robinson said. Robinson, who was on the school’s Site Council before his family moved to the Santa Ynez Valley, said Davis exceeded expectations about being able to jump into the new principal position in a new community.

“She was so great with the kids,” he said. “Mine are lactose intolerant, and there was a dairy lunch day and they didn’t tell us to bring our own, so our kids were standing in line, crying, and she called to ask permission to buy them lunch, to take them to Subway. That was the level of attention to detail she had with the kids, she did stuff like that all the time.”

Harding formed its unique partnership with the UCSB Gevirtz Graduate School of Education in 2010 and became the county’s first elementary school with an International Baccalaureate designation in 2012.

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli 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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