After six months of discussion, disagreement and introspection about the future of the South San Francisco Unified School District, the board has made a much-anticipated decision: Alejandro Hogan, currently the associate superintendent of human resources at the Salinas Union High School District, will be the next superintendent.
“Mr. Hogan, I believe, has the ability to bring our district together, which it desperately needs,” said district Trustee Philip Weise. “He’s held in a very high regard from everyone in the school community, and I think he will help move our schools toward greatness as they should be.”
Hogan has spent much of his career in Salinas and has worked as an elementary school teacher, an elementary school principal and as district staff and the associate superintendent in the high school district.
“He was universally acclaimed by the folks there,” Weise said. “He’s done a lot in the district, and he has a lot of experience.”
The board interviewed a total of seven candidates from the position, during an earlier round of the process, and brought in by search firm during a day of interviews on June 11.
The four school board members present unanimously chose Hogan as the finalist, said Board President Maurice Goodman. (Trustee Shirley Hoch was absent for medical reasons.)
On Friday, Goodman and Weise traveled to Hogan’s school district in Salinas to interview people who work with him first hand. Representatives from the PTA, the Classroom Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association, as well as a parent at large, also visited.
“The constant theme of each comment that was made about him by individuals that have known him over a 30 year period [was] his ability to find consensus and to bring individuals through a process,” Goodman said.
South San Francisco teachers have vigorously criticized district leadership for a heavy-handed management style, at recent board meetings. Goodman and Weise both emphasized Hogan’s communication style as one of his primary assets.
“One thing that he said was that it’s key for him to ensure that individuals that are affected by the decision are part of that decision making process,” Goodman said.
“It seems like almost every single one within that whole group that we talked with, no one had anything bad to say about him,” said Napoleon Garcia, who went on the site visit as the PTA representative. “I think that he’ll be able to bring this district together.”
The board offered Hogan the position on Friday after the successful site visit, Goodman said.
Hogan said that some of his main challenges in South City will be working within budget constraints to maintain quality programs and helping schools that are in Program Improvement. But he said his first order of business will be to restore trust in the administration.
“I’m gathering that the district is in need of some TLC,” Hogan said. “The first order of what I want to do there is reinstate the trust and confidence in the district.”
Goodman said Acting Superintendent Adolfo Melara will return to his previous role as associate superintendent.
“He’s a team player. He’s done a great job as acting superintendent,” Goodman said.
Though Melara often faced sharp criticism from teachers and administrators, members of the Latino community permanently as superintendent. As associate superintendent, Melara worked on English learner programs, and parents praised his outreach to the community and commitment to youth.
Goodman said Hogan is familiar with the issues faced by Latino families.
“He has done a great deal of work bringing the Hispanic community to the table and decision-making in Salinas,” Goodman said.
The district is still negotiating Hogan’s salary and contract, but Goodman said he hoped it could be signed Thursday night. Weise said he thinks a is likely.
Hogan's start date hasn't been determined, but he said he's anticipating starting on July 1.
Hogan, who plans to move to South San Francisco, said he would likely come to Thursday night’s board meeting.