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Despite community and staff pleas, Ravenswood school board votes for external superintendent search

Original post made on Oct 11, 2019

The Ravenswood City school board voted 3-1 on Thursday night, with Vice President Stephanie Fitch dissenting and President Tamara Sobomehin absent, to conduct an external search for the East Palo Alto district's next superintendent.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 11, 2019, 8:50 AM

Comments (21)

Posted by Concerned Teacher
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2019 at 12:48 pm

The three members of the Ravenswood City School Board who have voted to begin looking externally for a new superintendent need to have their heads examined. There is NO ONE more qualified for the position of Superintendent of Ravenswood City Schools than Gina Sudaria. She has made her career here in Ravenswood and she has gained experience at every level of education from the classroom to the administration offices, of which she has held many. She knows this community and loves this community like NO ONE from the outside would ever be able to. The shift in morale of the faculty is observable and undeniable, yet these three board members seem to be blind to the progress that has already been made since Ms. Sudaria has taken the helm. The real question here is not about "transparency" as they claim, it is about control and egos. Remember, people, these board members are elected to represent your voices and if they are not doing so, vote them out!

Posted by Concerned Teacher
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2019 at 1:16 pm

The sad truth of the matter is if Gina Sudaria is not made the Superintendent of Ravenswood City School District, a district that she has been part of for 2 decades, some other school district out there will benefit from her leadership. She will not have to wait long for the offers to come streaming in! The only correct thing to do in this situation is to make Gina Sudaria the permanent Superintendent so that Ravenswood can continue to "right the ship."

Posted by Parent
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2019 at 1:48 pm

Gina is a good person, but don't oversell her. Until a few months ago she was an upper middle level administrator in our small, low-performing, rapidly shrinking district. She's served in a number of roles in Ravenswood, but there are no big results to point to. She may be the best person for the job - there may not be many applicants! - but it hard to say that unless you see what's out there.

She may get other job offers if she applies, it's true - though on the other hand, recall that she wasn't even the first choice to temporarily take over Gloria's place. So we'll see. In the meantime, no need to set unrealistic expectations - let her do her job and hopefully there will be some results to look at.

Posted by Ivan Temes
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2019 at 1:53 pm

As someone who has worked with youth in East Palo Alto for many years--and also the author of 'Care You Have to Power'-- my initial reaction based on the meeting last night was that the three Board members--Pulido, Wilson and Gaona-Mendoza--who come from the ills of the former regime might be advised to leave their positions to those who are dedicated to the progress the district needs NOW. Nothing personal other than those who impede progress are not really part of a cohesive team. Ms. Fitch made a valiant effort to support the district in moving forward and was not supported.
This is a turnaround situation and Gina Sedaria--in a short time-frame--has ALREADY accomplished what could be considered a miracle. Care and Trust--which have been missing for a long time--in terms of leadership have become evident in the district. Never have I heard SO MANY people from all venues in the district--parents, teachers, principals, administrators and others speak so passionately about the forward progress already being made. As one speaker said, many others will rally to the cause of benefiting our children in such a positive way. Gina provides the listening, community-orientation and leadership that will move the district forward in its efforts to benefit the children in the most positive way. Noone from outside could come even close. The expectation is also that those who have left the district will be motivated to bring their children back to an environment that truly cares.

Posted by Popular
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2019 at 1:55 pm

One of the board members said she is popular. The question is do we need a popular super or a experienced one

Posted by FormerColleague
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2019 at 5:25 pm

Was part of an HR professionals group with Gina. Extraordinarily inept, inexperienced and uninformed. Really out of her depth. No other District would grant her an interview for even an Assistant Superintendent position. She only looks good by comparison with a Gloria.Ravenswood deserves a real quality leader. Hope one applies.

Posted by concerned teacher
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2019 at 6:08 pm

This movement is falling on deaf ears, Pulido, Wilson, and Gaona-Mendoza are not listening. I was on the RTA committee for interviews for prospective board members when Pulido, who was up for reelection, came before the teachers to convince us that her spots were not really spots (think leopard, but more like a snake). I cannot fathom what the resistance is to hiring Gina, other than ego or ineptitude. This is the thing, those board members are playing with fire. They are not acting on the best interest of the students, they are acting on self-serving motives. The majority of my colleagues are committed to Ravenswood because of a strong ethical commitment to social justice. This whole thing can unravel and will unravel if we are not wise. The majority of us are hanging on by a thread because we dare to hope, but know this; if Gina Sudaria is not here to lead us, and things go south, you can blame Pulido, Wilson, & Gaona-Mendoza.

Posted by Parent
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2019 at 6:14 pm

@concerned teacher, to say that Ravenswood might fall apart if the staff doesn't get their way is inappropriate on a couple of levels. First it comes across as a threat, which will probably increase the board's resistance to Gina. Second, looking at Ravenswood student performance and community participation, it has already fallen apart in a way few other districts ever have. The question is who will pick up the pieces.

Posted by Jesusita Rivera, a Teacher in RCSD
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2019 at 7:34 pm

Oh!!! Why do I even bother with those negative comments from faceless people...too cowardly to put their name to their face. Lol. All I have to say is EVERYONE has haters and the highly qualified Gina Sudaria, is no exception. Yea, she’s popular...popular because she is the real deal. Popular amongst the people who truly have the number one customer, the students, at heart. Popular because again, she is highly qualified. Lol!! To the person who posted under “former colleague” To think that a supposed former faceless colleague is calling her inept....faceless person, you have no credibility hiding behind meaningless words. You are no longer at the district and I am glad of it. We only need high quality people and clearly you didn’t fit the bill because you’re no longer here.....but Mrs. Sudaria is.

Haters are going to hate. What else are they going to do? I’m not worried about you.

#oneravenswood #sudariathesup let’s keep on stepping on!

Posted by Amazing Team
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2019 at 8:37 pm

@Parent - to answer your comment
"though on the other hand, recall that she wasn't even the first choice to temporarily take over Gloria's place."

The first offer went to the Assistant Sup (the next highest ranking person). She declined stating "This e-mail is to officially inform you that I am respectfully declining your offer to take on the superintendent’s day to today duties and responsibilities. As a member of the Superintendent’s cabinet, I can speak for all of us when I state that the District’s management team, both cabinet and director level, are currently working 12+ hour days and cannot absorb additional responsibilities. I thank you for your consideration, and you have my commitment that I will continue to serve Ravenswood in my current capacity to the best of my abilities."

The next person in line was Gina who graciously stepped up for our children and assumed the new responsibilities. She is absolutely moving Ravenswood forward in a way that was not possible under prior working conditions. That wasn't about first or second choice it was about the hierarchy of the job titles.

I do not believe that you were in an HR course with Gina. I believe you know she took the course. People who are in class learning with others typically don't go out of their way to comment anonymously online and call their classmates 'inept'. Your comment isn't what is being said by her colleagues, at the San Mateo County Office of Education or in surrounding districts.

Ravenswood HAS a real quality leader.

As for the 'popular' comments. Gina is a 'popular' LEADER. She is 'popular' because, as her teammates said, she is trustworthy, reliable, dedicated, committed, caring, responsive, humble and invested. This is not middle school ... bosses are not 'popular.' They are respected. Gina is respected.

Posted by resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2019 at 9:21 pm

to all the people that have commented that Gina is the right candidate to be the next superintendent for Ravenswood School District please look back and see what she has done in regards as to what she did when she was in Human Resources [Portion removed.]
look at what she is done as soon as she was Interim superintendent, she gave everyone a Raise "did you get One
Jesusita"? because everyone in admin. got a raise including Solomon that is why he spoke in favor of Gina and he has not spoken in favor of anyone in 18 years." please lets focus and move forward on finding the right superintendent. no hard feelings Jesusita.and Pulido has made mistakes in the past but right now Pulido,Gaona and Wilson are on the right track. thank you,

Posted by Amazing Team
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2019 at 9:48 pm

Teachers and classified staff got a much-deserved raise for last year and this year. Admin specifically did not get a raise due to the tight budget.

358 people have already signed a petition to support Gina in this role. (Web Link

The individual you named is most definitely not alone in her support.

Posted by Jesusita Rivera, RCSD Teacher
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2019 at 4:52 am

Yes, I did get a raise. And, from my knowledge, people that I know who got cut, needed to get cut. Those are facts. They simply weren’t doing their job. I wish they would get over themselves. Pulido, Wilson, and Gaona have got it wrong. But that’s ok because Mrs. Sudaria will continue to prove how awesome she is. So, I, Jesusita Rivera, Teacher, who got a raise that Mrs. Sudaria made sure teachers were going to get (to answer your question) SUPPORT, Gina Sudaria as Superintendent. I will continue to do so. Gladly.

Posted by Ivan Temes
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Based on the anonymous comment from an alleged HR person I have to comment again. Comments like that without a name attached should not be allowed.
As a former national customer director I would point at this person and say that HR people are often the last ones who recognize what true leadership looks like. If we are gonna be backstabbing don’t be anonymous.
Gina is an awesome leader and educator.

Posted by EPA Board
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2019 at 4:56 pm

Gee whiz. Those big rich districts look outside for their superintendents. If we look outside too we'll be just like them.

Posted by Concerned Community Member
a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2019 at 7:02 am

As a retired professional educator (teacher and administrator) with more than 35 years experience, a superintendent search is especially important when the board is not cohesive and focused. based upon previous reports in the Palo Alto Weekly, this board does not appear to be cohesive. A search firm will assign a consultant to guide the board in its hiring of a qualified, experiences educational leader.

One measure of Ms, Sudaria's qualifications to serve as the permanent superintendent would be years of tenure in Ravenswood. In some ways, it can provide her an advantage over external candidates. At the same time, it is only one among a set of criteria a search consultant will establish with the board as it screens candidates.

Ms. Sudaria and her current supporters should welcome a search. Should she emerge as the final candidate, it will be an important validation of her skills and experience. It will be an indication of the Board's trust in her ability to move the district forward. As a leader, Ms. Sudaria should want what is best for the district and trust she can emerge as the best qualified candidate.

In light of recent test scores posted on the website of the CA Department of Education, the board, community and staff should want the best for all of its students. The district needs a strong, instructional and operationally experienced leader to move the district forward.

Only the BEST for Ravenswood. Only the BEST.

Posted by Watching
a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2019 at 7:45 am

There has been talk about declining enrollment? How about declining test scores?!!!! Which may have a direct impact on declining enrollment? There is a lot of talk about retaining Gina Sudaria. Talk here and at board meetings. When is the focus going to change to kids? And helping them achieve at higher levels? Ms. Sudaria might start the ball rolling on that topic and taking the attention off of her. Can you do that, Ms. Sudaria? It might serve both your interests and the District's - at the same time. Get the adults in the room to start focusing on the needs of children. That is leadership at its best!

Posted by Interesting
a resident of Woodside
on Oct 15, 2019 at 11:15 pm

Interestingly, going back through the Board Minutes for April 18 and after, it appears more than twenty-five certificated employees resigned from the district at the end of the 2018/2019 school year. This does not include resignations accepted in meetings prior to April 18.

Gina Sudaria assumed the position of acting/interim superintendent around April 1 - well before the April 18 Board meeting. If people were so satisfied with Gina's assuming the role, why did so many people leave after the time she was first appointed? Twenty-seven certificated employees represents a considerable portion of the total certificated staff.

Interesting. Very interesting.

Posted by RMS Staff
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2019 at 8:44 am

Amanda Kemp is just another white lady that thinks she knows what's best for everyone. I hope the district outs her next year and replaces her with someone who understands the kids.

Posted by To RMS Staff
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2019 at 7:50 pm

I sure hope that Gina and the RMS principal read your posting, that way they might storm how to be a better principal and accept feedback. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Moyliten
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 11, 2019 at 10:18 am

It seems to me that this should positively affect the situation. This decision will also affect the studying process. So I can say with confidence that Web Link is the best service for all students.

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