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Community Leaders Call for Transparency in Fresno Superintendent Search
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By Edward Smith
Published 1 month ago on
April 12, 2024
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Fresno Unified trustees on Wednesday said they now want to look externally for potential replacements for Superintendent Bob Nelson — a change from a previous plan to limit candidates to those working for the district.

Veva Islas Cultiva la Salud

“I think that’s the best way we can be transparent is to be responsive to what the community has asked us to do. I feel like there is probably a lot of openness to the idea of including some type of public ability to meet who the finalists are.” — Trustee Veva Islas

With the announcement, community members and union leaders called for a transparent process as the School Board seeks to fill the district’s top spot.

“I think there is general agreement about the missteps of the board’s previous approach to this superintendent search,” said Kay Bertken, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Fresno.

“I would suggest that the way toward a repair of the damage is for the board to move forward quickly. It should be the board’s number one priority over the next weeks to agree on a renewed and transparent process.”

Reputation Tarnished, Transparency Can Fix That: Union Leader

The board did not provide many details other than the desire to search out external candidates. Board President Susan Wittrup said they wanted community input. Those details would come at a future meeting, she said.

Among district teachers, many think a decision on Bob Nelson’s successor already has been made.

In a Fresno Teachers Association leadership meeting, union President Manuel Bonilla put the question to his members.

“Over 60% of folks of folks raised their hand,” Bonilla said. “Again, anecdotal, yet still that is the culture … permeating this school district. We want to change that. The way you could change it is by having a very open and transparent process.”

Trustee Veva Islas said one path toward transparency is keeping the community informed about the superintendent’s search and allowing district families to meet the finalists.

“I think that’s the best way we can be transparent is to be responsive to what the community has asked us to do,” Islas said. “I feel like there is probably lot of openness to the idea of including some type of public ability to meet who the finalists are.”

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Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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