Central Unified will have a new superintendent starting July 1, the district announced Tuesday, after months of contention between the school board and parent groups.
Andrew G. Alvarado, the current head of Golden Valley Unified in Madera Ranchos, was hired after a six-week search to fill the seat previously held by Mark Sutton, who was terminated without cause in February. Kelly Porterfield has been serving as interim superintendent ever since.
In a news release from the district, Central touted Golden Valley's "tremendous gains" under Alvarado. The district's four traditional schools have earned Distinguished School status during his tenure, according to the release.
Alvarado said he's excited to start the job at the region's third-largest district.
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"Central has excellent academics, strong athletics," Alvarado said. "The educators there are high-quality and I'm looking forward to working with them."
He said he'll miss the professionalism and community at Golden Valley Unified, where he has been since 2002. Alvarado took over as superintendent in 2011, but his tenure was interrupted in 2015 when he left the post by way of mutual separation.
However, parents rallied around Alvarado, recalling three board members who were part of the decision to part ways with him: Kathleen Crumpton, John Moseley and Carla Neal. Neal said at the time that voters were misinformed, and Alvarado had left by choice.
Moseley said he now wishes Alvarado well in his new post, but added that declining enrollment numbers at Golden Valley indicate the district has been struggling.
"It's easy to discern we felt the district needed a new direction," Moseley said.
The situation mirrors what's been happening at Central Unified since February, when the board voted to terminate Sutton. A group of parents led an effort to have him reinstated, going so far as to file recall notices for two board members: Phillip Cervantes and Richard Solis. (NOTE: the original version of this story incorrectly reported that Cervantes voted for Sutton's ouster.)
In response, another recall was filed against Terry Cox, who voted to keep Sutton.
Parent Aaren Rodrigues, part of the group pushing to keep Sutton, said she felt the search for a new superintendent was extremely rushed and poorly done. Although parents had initially packed the Central Unified board room for public comment, they eventually stopped attending, saying that the board wasn't listening to their concerns.
"The whole thing is a joke," Rodrigues said. "We will correct in November when we clean house."
Rodrigues said she doesn't know Alvarado, but that he has huge shoes to fill. The parent group had continued to support Sutton's reinstatement even after the board announced the search process to replace him.
Alvarado said he's aware that parents have had concerns throughout the search for a new superintendent, but that he feels confident that his relationship-building skills will mend the rift.
"My first order of business will be to start getting out into the community," he said.
Central Unified School Board president Cesar Granda was not available for comment Wednesday, but said in a news release that the district is pleased Alvarado accepted the job.
"When we met with him, we were impressed with his experience, leadership skills, and professionalism," Granda said. "We look forward to him working with our staff, students and community for years to come.”