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James Elsasser named tentative selection for new CUSD superintendent

The Claremont Unified School District board announced the tentative selection of James Elsasser, Ed.d., as the district’s new superintendent in press release published on the CUSD website.

“The board will take action at a future regular meeting pending a successful site visit and contract negotiation,” the press release stated.

Mr. Elsasser received his B.A. in Music Education from Azusa Pacific University (APU), a master’s in education from APU, and his doctorate in Educational Leadership from University of Southern California.

Mr. Elsasser hails from the Anaheim City School District (ACSD), which serves 19,300 kindergarten through 6th grade students among its 24 schools, where he served as the assistant superintendent of human resources overseeing its more than 1700 employees. ACSD has an annual operating budget of $176 million.

At the Thursday, May 3 board meeting, David Nemer addressed the board in public comment emphasizing that the board should find a superintendent who can offer a sufficient balance between top-down management and a collaborative approach to working with teachers, paying particular attention to the restrictiveness of the No Child Left Behind Act.

“There is no magic bullet,” Mr. Nemer said, “and no justification for rejecting teachers’ collective strengths, experience and judgment. The art of teaching should be valued and not crowded out by standardization and micromanagement. Please choose a superintendent who understands that.”

Mr. Nemer also noted that the balance between micromanagement and consideration of teachers’ classroom perspectives within the district has deteriorated in recent years.

Before going into closed session, Board Member Steven Llanusa expressed concern that not enough time was given to review documents relating to the superintendent hire. The unnamed document was a 19-page email attachment that Mr. Llanusa indicated was received at 2 p.m. on Thursday.

“My comment relates to due diligence,” Mr. Llanusa said. “I cannot do justice to an item pertaining to something this important without enough time.”

Board President Jeff Stark remarked that the information was forwarded as soon as it was received and that all board members had received the same time frame to review the email. There was no further discussion on the matter before the board recessed into closed session.

Mr. Elsasser joined ACSD in the 2008-2009 school year relocating from the Los Alamitos School District where he was director of classified personnel and special projects. He was previously principal of the Oak Middle School in the same district. Prior to joining Los Alamitos, Mr. Elsasser was a teacher, assistant principal and principal in the Downey Unified School District.

Board Vice President, Mary Caenepeel stated in the press release that, “Jim has had a wide range of professional experiences in human resources, finance and highly effective learning instruction. He has a leadership style that will work well for Claremont.”

CUSD has roughly 6900 kindergarten through 12th grade students, with 8 elementary schools one middle school and 2 high schools. CUSD has 669 employees and an annual budget of $55.7 million.

More information on the superintendent will be published when it becomes available.

—Kathryn Dunn

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