The Southerner

Sergio Paez voted Superintendent despite calls to restart search

Anna Kleven, Sports Editor

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After an eleven month search, The Minneapolis School Board named Sergio Paez as their preferred candidate for superintendent.

Six out of nine directors voted for Paez. The remaining named current Interim Superintendent Michael Goar.

Present in the boardroom were protesters demanding a restart to the search process. The group presented a petition of 914 signatures to support this motion.

According to the petition, the group is concerned that the three finalists “are all less qualified for the position and have alarming ties to the business driven reform model.”

The Board commended the “democracy” of the protesters, but none of them voted to re-open the search. Before the vote, they Board discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate as they relate to the list of desired characteristics.

Paez is the former Superintendent of Holyoke, Massachusetts. Although significantly smaller that Minneapolis, Holyoke also has a large population of English language learners. Paez is an immigrant from Columbia and English is his second language. Board members admire his communication skills and focus of equity.

The protesters oppose Paez, highlighting the “data walls” policy that he instituted in his former school district. This policy instructed teachers to display student names and test scores. Paez denied having issued the policy.

The achievement gap remains the most outstanding issue facing the district. Director Carla Bates said that she doesn’t believe that Paez is on board with MPS’ “Theory of Action” which involves Student Based Allocation (SBA). In this model, budgeting is based off of a per-pupil model with the goal of meeting the needs of each school separately.

“I’m not sure if Paez will have the political muscles to handle people who don’t….buy the idea of student based allocation,” said director Siad Ali.

Opposition blames HYA Executive search and Michael Goar’s candidacy for the “weakness” of the pool. HYA is a company that matches executives with organizations that share their visions. The firm helped gather community input from teachers and students in the district.

According to Ted Blaesing, a consultant for HYA, 1500 individuals provided input into the list of desired characteristics for a candidate. The firm held a meeting at South in September. No South students were present, although online surveys were completed.  

Ali alluded to the fact that in addition to community input, outside stakeholders influenced the outcome of the search. “Sometimes you see people who don’t have children [in the schools] who are more vocal,” he said.  

Protesters suspect that Michael Goar’s candidacy discouraged strong local candidates to run. Goar has been outspoken about his goal of becoming Superintendent and was favored to win.

The Board and the protesters shared some concerns about Goar, namely that he has no experience as a teacher or a principal. Additionally, the protesters called his track record as Interim Superintendent “abysmal.”

They cited his downsizing of the Davis Center and the selection of Reading Horizons curriculum, which was dropped in October after outcry about offensive content.

After the vote, the school board decided to send two members to Paez’ former district before they negotiate a contract.

 

 

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About the Writer
Anna Kleven, Sports Editor

Tanya Hodge is one of many teachers who has noticed the mental health of their students worsen over the past few years. Her students have reached out to...

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Sergio Paez voted Superintendent despite calls to restart search