Dr. Joanne Culverhouse was principal at El Morro, Thurston, and LBHS, mentoring a generation of kids K-12.
“Dr. C” was honest about what she, our schools and our community were getting right, or needed to do better. She mastered objective achievement metrics, but had a gift for making students feel valued, loved.
That’s why parents shattered by tragedy asked her to give a voice to two beautiful boys lost at the threshold of manhood. Knowing each since childhood, she made herself the bridge over troubled waters for grieving loved ones, classmates and a town in mourning.
So there was disbelief when our School Board allowed a far less qualified Superintendent to marginalize Culverhouse, then pass her over to hire underachieving Assistant Superintendents.
Board members pretended “Superintendent did it!” But education code section 35161 confirms Board responsibility for all actions taken under powers delegated to Superintendent.
Facing a hostile workplace for being beloved in the community, Culverhouse was forced out, and Palos Verdes gladly offered her the Assistant Superintendent post.
A happy ending loomed when Culverhouse applied to be the new Superintendent in 2017, but the Board eliminated her in the first round, revealing Board members pretending support were faking.
Leading transformational classroom learning strides as La Habra’s new Superintendent, the OC Register named Culverhouse among the 100 most influential people in county. Now she’s been named Association of California Administrators regional “Superintendent of the Year.”
In contrast, the Board incompetently over-delegated control of the governance agenda to the new Superintendent. Parents who questioned district policy were told by Peggy Wolff that the Board is “at 30,000 feet,” too high for curriculum or grading “staff issues,” a.k.a. “down in the weeds.”
The superintendent refuses to disclose if the Board addressed officer selection not on the agenda as required by law (November 17, 2017). Meanwhile a state court judge ruled the Superintendent exceeded authority by imposing punishment and stigmatizing students without a full investigation. The board and Superintendent defied the court order reversing actions against students until the judge threatened contempt charges. After complying, no matter the outcome, what public interest is served spending $250,000 appealing the judge’s ruling?
Obsession with secrecy includes closed meetings not justified under the law, and $150,000 spent on private investigators for school employee matters that should be within district capacity. Another $50,000 spent on “governance training” consultants and workshops as cover for borderline paranoid school governance practices by the current Superintendent and Board majority.
Howard Hills, Laguna Beach