Lucia Mar appoints interim superintendent

A retired Ventura County school administrator from Shell Beach will lead the Lucia Mar district while it seeks to replace Superintendent Deborah Flores.

William Brand starts next Tuesday as interim superintendent of the South County school system. The Lucia Mar Unified School District board appointed him in closed session Tuesday.

His salary is still being negotiated, school board President Dee Santos said Wednesday.

Flores announced in May that she would leave her post leading San Luis Obispo County’s largest school district. She’s leaving to be superintendent of the Gilroy Unified School District south of San Jose.

Brand was superintendent of the Santa Paula Union High School District in Ventura County from 1996 to 2003.

It’s not the first time a local school district has picked him as an interim leader.

In 2004, Brand was interim superintendent at San Luis Coastal Unified School District for four months while its board searched for a new leader.

“My goal is to leave the (Lucia Mar) district in a positive situation for the new superintendent,” Brand said Wednesday. “It has a reputation as a high-achieving district, with powerful teaching and talented students, and I hope to have that continue.”

Brand said he would also focus on mentoring the two new principals at Arroyo Grande and Nipomo high schools and work with school board members to unite them.

Members of the divided board have admitted that relations within the seven-member group have been strained for months.

Last month the county civil grand jury blasted the board over its handling of the rumored firing or reassignment in February of two middle school principals and the apparent reversal of that decision.

Despite vocal protests by parents and the community, the board would not discuss the matter publicly, calling it only a “misunderstanding.”

Earlier in May, board members Colleen Martin and David Foster told The Tribune that they believe the strained relations will be eased with a new superintendent.

Brand’s experience includes three years as an assistant superintendent of the Escondido Union High School District in San Diego and 20 years of experience as a principal or assistant principal at several high schools in Southern California.

Most recently, he worked on an interim basis at the McFarland Unified School District in Kern County. He’s also an adjunct professor for an administrative studies master’s degree program at the Chapman University satellite campus in Santa Maria.

“I think he can bring a lot to the table,” Santos said. “His experience as a past superintendent and the ideas of what he would like to see happen in this school district are appealing.”

On Tuesday, the school board also hired a firm to assist with its search for a new superintendent. The district will pay $29,000 to Orange County-based Leadership Associates to assist with recruitment.

The contract with the firm includes meetings with community members, workshops on board objectives and recruitment of qualified candidates. The firm expects to have a pool of potential candidates by August.

Santos said she expects the hiring process to take at least six months.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune