San Juan district selects Kern as superintendent

03/25/2014 8:10 PM

03/25/2014 8:11 PM

Kent A. Kern, interim leader of San Juan Unified schools, was named superintendent Tuesday night, closing a tumultuous chapter in district leadership.

Kern, 46, begins the post effective today with an annual salary of $238,500. The three-year contract includes a 6 percent pay boost available to employees who have worked 19 to 24 years for the district.

Kern took a lead role in running the San Juan Unified School District in early summer 2013, shortly after Superintendent Glynn Thompson was placed on paid administrative leave while the district investigated employee complaints against him.

In December, the investigation substantiated claims of bullying and retaliation, and Thompson resigned effective in mid-January, in lieu of the district seeking to fire him. About that time, Kern became interim superintendent.

Trustees in a special meeting on Saturday agreed to extend Kern an offer. He accepted, and they approved the contract in a closed session Tuesday night, shortly before the start of the trustees’ regular meeting. Trustee Saul Hernandez announced the decision at the start of that meeting.

Kern is a Bella Vista High School graduate and has worked for San Juan Unified schools throughout his career. In a prepared statement, he called the district a family and said he was honored to take on the job.

Since the early 1990s, he has held numerous districtwide and school posts.

Kern served as the district’s assistant superintendent of operations and school support from 2011 until this week.

Before that, he was director of the San Juan’s Safe Schools Program in 2010 and oversaw middle schools from 2007 to 2010.

He was principal at Carnegie Middle School starting in 2002. He also had served as a vice principal at Will Rogers and Arden Middle schools, and was a teacher at Will Rogers and a basketball coach at Bella Vista and Casa Roble high schools in the early 1990s.

He has degrees and credentials from California State University, Sacramento; National University, Sacramento; and University of La Verne, near Los Angeles. He earned a master’s degree in education in 1996 at La Verne.

Trustees began an in-house search for a replacement in January and quickly focused on several candidates. Those individuals, including Kern, were interviewed Saturday by members of a community panel composed of parents, community members and district employees.

Panelists shared their thoughts on strengths and weaknesses of individual candidates, who then had final interviews with trustees at the special Saturday meeting.

In its investigation of Thompson, the Van Dermyden Maddux Law Corp. conducted 96 interviews, many of them over the summer months, and reviewed hundreds of documents before finding that claims by some employees of bullying and retaliation were sustained.

The investigators found that Thompson was viewed as a visionary, a gifted speaker and a learned instructional leader but was lacking in interpersonal skills.

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