Visalia Unified hires new superintendent after national search

District’s new head of education will be announced at the March 8 school board meeting; meet and greet will be held March 9 at VTEC

VISALIA – Visalia Unified has hired a new permanent superintendent following a nationwide search that began in August 2021. 

Visalia Unified spokesperson Kim Batty said the district will introduce the new superintendent at the March 8 school board meeting. Parents wanting to meet the district’s new head of education will have another opportunity at a meet and greet the following day. The district sent out an invitation to the community for a Meet the New Superintendent event from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9 at the VTEC High School Arboretum located at 2245 S. Linwood Ave. in Visalia. 

The successful search for a new lead administrator was handled by the Tulare County Office of Education and personally overseen by Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Tim Hire, who met his own deadline of presenting the new hire to the community at the first regular meeting in March. 

Hire built the profile for the ideal candidate by surveying 1,400 parents, staff, students and community members last September. The online questionnaire revealed that VUSD stakeholders were looking for a proven leader with a clear vision who can bring the district together by refocusing on improving student achievement rather than staying in-line with legal statutes.

“They want someone who is charismatic, bold and can make the tough decisions and stand by them in the face of adversity,” Hire told the board last October.

Respondents prioritized honesty over all of the other 31 characteristics listed on the survey. Someone who is student-centered, trustworthy and a good communicator were a distant second.

“They want someone to tell them the truth,” Hire said.

Hire summed up the ideal candidate as having “a proven record of successful leadership of a K-12 district including academic success, providing a safe learning/working environment, fiscal responsibility, facility maintenance and development, cultivating positive district culture and implementing a clear vision for the district. VUSD desires a leader with strong communication and problem-solving skills accompanied with collaborative, approachable, student-centered, accountable personal core values and desires to lead the district and community for many years.”

Basic qualifications for the candidate included a master’s degree in education, classroom teaching experience as well as site level and district level leadership. Candidates were required to have at least 10 years of education experience and at least five years of district leadership in a district with at least 7,000 students.

Throughout the search, Doug Cardoza has served as interim superintendent. Cardoza officially took over the head spot for the district on Sept. 1, after Tamara Ravalin officially retired on Aug. 31. Ravalin announced on May 21 her plans to retire on Aug. 31, citing personal and health reasons. Ravalin was thrust into the spotlight nearly three years ago when she was named acting superintendent by the board a week after her predecessor, Dr. Todd Oto, was unceremoniously dismissed by the board.

The new superintendent will be VUSD’s sixth in 10 years.

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