Residents want KHSD to expand search for superintendent

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Speaker after speaker at the Kern High School District board meeting Monday evening called upon the district to expand its search for a new superintendent.

"I encourage you, I pray and I hope for you, that cast a wider net, let the competition reign, go for it," said Juan Vega of Bakersfield.

Current superintendent Dr. Don Carter is retiring at the end of the school year. But, the district decided to limit its search for a successor to internal candidates, meaning it will not consider outside candidates.

That has lead to charges of cronyism in selecting the next person for the top job.

"That could be a problem, it isn't necessarily a problem," said KHSD board president Chad Vegas. "There are also a lot of advantages that you have if you have a good candidate."

With more than 35,000 students, KHSD is the largest high school district in the state. The district is heavily Hispanic and overwhelmingly minority.

"I hope that you select your new superintendent someone who could relate to this high population," said Bernice Bonillas.

The Bakersfield City School District chose its superintendent, Dr. Robert Arias, in 2012. BCSD school board member Andrae Gonzalez said conducting a nationwide search proved to be the best way to find the most qualified person for the post.

"As a trustee on the BCSD, I was impressed when we took a nationwide search, and we took a scan of the candidates that were out there," said Gonzalez.

Vegas said about the only way KHSD will consider appointing an outsider is if there are no qualified candidates from within the district.

"If one of those candidates isn't the best fit for what this district needs and this community needs, then yeah, we would be willing to go beyond them," said Vegas.

The deadline to apply for the position is Feb. 14.