Laguna Beach USD’s No. 2 official set to exit for superintendent job

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Deputy Supt. Leisa Winston is slated to take the top job at Huntington Beach City School District. Courtesy of Laguna Beach USD

The Laguna Beach Unified School District’s deputy superintendent will depart after being tapped to lead a Huntington Beach school district starting in January.

Leisa Winston will be the next superintendent of the Huntington Beach City School District, a K-8 district that includes eight school sites. Her role as that district’s top administrator is contingent on contract negotiations and final approval by the HBCSD school board on Dec. 15.

“I am appreciative of the opportunity I’ve had to work with the exceptional team in LBUSD over the last seven years,” Winston wrote in an email. “This district is fortunate to have tremendous community support for the schools, which is so important to the success of our students. I wish nothing but the best to the Board, staff, students, and parents in this special community.”

Winston joined Laguna Beach Unified in 2013 as the director of human resources and public communication following a stint as an assistant superintendent with the Westminster School District. Since then she’s assumed the title of deputy superintendent of human resources and instructional services. Winston oversees an extensive portfolio including labor negotiations, curriculum and assessment, and media relations.

Since the pandemic’s outset, Winston was a central figure in the school district’s rollout of a distance learning curriculum and planning for how to safely return students to classrooms.

Before the COVID-19 era, Winston encountered resistance from many parents as the district attempted to implement a collegiate academic calendar. That plan was shelved in favor of a trimester system during the 2020-21 school year.

Winston is expected to relieve Supt. Greg Magnuson in Huntington Beach on Jan. 4. Magnuson will serve as interim superintendent through December.

“The Board wishes to extend its appreciation to Dr. Winston and each of the applicants who showed an interest in the position,” the Huntington Beach City School District said in a press release. “Trustees also want to express their gratitude to HBCSD employees, parents, students, community members, and ESS search advisors for their valuable input throughout this process.”

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