In Defense of Superintendent’s Hires



Regarding Howard Hills’ article calling for the immediate resignation of Superintendent Sherine Smith (“School Board Must Clean House Now,” July 12 edition).

I suspect that such an action would throw the school district into chaos. Having lost so many people from top posts in such a short amount of time, the district would be wise to retain someone with the knowledge and experience to carry on.

Apparently Smith’s only offense is having hired people whom she knew through experience would do an excellent job. Isn’t that what bosses are supposed to do? When hiring babysitters for my children, was I supposed to open the job up to strangers rather than hiring teenagers whom I knew to be competent and responsible? Howard Hills and his rabble-rousing band of malcontents would apparently reply in the affirmative.

It is my understanding that the employees whom Smith knew from Capistrano Unified were hired through a process that included applications, interviews, background checks, and board approval. They were not appointees. So what is the problem?

I taught in public schools for 39 years, several of them alongside Sherine Smith. I know her to be smart, kind, hard-working, and unflagging in her dedication to the education of our children. I am appalled and disheartened that the voices of a few disgruntled parents and employees have put her job in jeopardy.

Those parents who appreciate Laguna’s schools and Ms. Smith’s years of work on their behalf should step forward in her defense by writing letters to the school board and local newspapers and/or speaking up on her behalf at the next school board meeting.


Kris Evans, Laguna Beach

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  1. Obviously you don’t work in the district office alongside of Ms. Smith’s Cronies. And you are assuming that because there were other applicants that went through the interview process, that they were all given equal consideration. Think again! Somehow her pals all got the jobs and higher pay than their predecessors. This may appear to you as a few disgruntled parents and employees, but they represent many who fear to come forward. Ms. Smith’s lack of transparency and obvious favoritism, shows a huge lack of wisdom, and thus she alone has created this mess.

  2. Where does this “pals/cronies” thing come from, Kaye? It’s pure b.s. I have no idea why this group of about 10 bored people – yes, that’s all there are – are determined to trip up the school district administration. There are so many other things to think about but you all just keep going on about these minor, petty grievances. Move on!

    The only people who “fear to come forward” are those who agree with Kris Evans and are afraid of the bully treatment that anyone who disagrees with them will get from Haranguing Howard Hills and his mean-spirited, close-minded cabal. I am not the only one who wishes these folks would get a life and participate in the community, if they must, in a more positive way.

  3. Obviously Steve, you should do a little more research on Ms. Smith and her “pals/cronies” before you refer to it as all b.s. Or are you afraid that you might actually see that there is truth behind what is being said? There is obviously so much you do not know, and rather than address the problem, you like so many others want to sweep it under the rug and hope it all just goes away.

  4. Reserach? If I heard any charges or solid information that had merit this would get my attention but I haven’t. Nobody in town with any sense is listening anymore because it all sounds so damn petty. Just a lot of hot air. There is no smoking gun. There is no conspiracy. Just a group of people trying to do their jobs, maybe imperfectly, and getting shouted down by a small band of troublemakers. This isn’t worth the energy of those with stuff to do.

  5. It is just a few personal thoughts. If the current crisis in LBUSD senior management is due to the intermeddling of a few malcontents why did the School Board first approve and then, when getting the facts, reverse its approval of the Superintendent’s most important hiring and staffing plans? I can assure you it was not because the School Board was eager to reverse its decisions. It was because there was a real problem that a large network of active parents and school supporters brought to light, all of them very busy with lives they would rather have been pursuing without having to spend time monitoring public school administration and uneconomical use of their tax dollars.

    I find it ironic that the School Board encourages parents to come to Board meetings and get involved (Theresa O’Hare even admonished parents not to complain later if they don’t come to meetings and make their opposition to Board actions known), but when they do come and support the success of the schools by praising what is working and criticizing what is broken then they are accused by bystanders and spectators of being intermeddlers whose personal character is questioned. The School Board is an elected body, they can take the criticism or they shouldn’t be there, and this time they did the right thing by reversing bad decisions. But for some reason those who defend the School Board and the Superintendent (even when the Board recognized it had blown it by approving her hiring and salary practices) just can’t resist attacking those who brought the problems to light.

    Reading more than one local news source is a good way to avoid making uninformed statements about how petty and immaterial the discourse on these issues has been. The Superintendent’s Director of Human Resources and Communications, arguably the most critical member of the senior management team she hired, did not leave because of petty complaints and hot air.

    As far as whose listening, I have never seen such widespread consensus that the problems are real, this time it is not culture wars, these are basic competence and ethics issues, and anyone who knows the facts reaches the same conclusion. Clearly, some do not want to know the facts.

  6. Sherine Smith. What can I say? This is the same woman that paraded the four hard working principals from our top performing schools on foot while she rode in a vehicle among them in the Patriots Day Parade. Last I checked we hired a superintendent of schools “Not” a Pope or King. Optic’s!!! Capistrano’s Gain ‘ Our Loss” “Proud of Laguna Schools” . Don’t let this hoard destroy them!

  7. Steve, Do is a public records request for what the district spends on legal fees as a start. Then ask why, and what they’re spending your tax dollars on? Dig just a little bit beneath the surface, before you anoint Smith as the savior of LBUSD.

    She clearly has made some bad choices in her hires that the board blindly approved that have since left LBUSD, some under questionable circumstances.

    A good leader should accept responsibility for the failures and mis-steps of her chosen hires and submit her resignation. BUT, you can bet that she won’t be resigning. She’ll allow her hires to go rather than accept responsibility herself, and they are leaving in droves… why?


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