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Trustees seek input on picking new OUSD leader

Austin Widger, Ojai Valley News reporter
The Ojai Unified School District Board has begun its hiring process for a new superintendent to replace superintendent Andy Cantwell when he leaves Ojai in early July.
The OUSD Board will have an update on the hiring process for a new superintendent at its March 6 board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Board meetings are held at the OUSD District Office, 414 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai.
The board is in the process of collecting résumés and vetting candidates. Some candidates have also already been interviewed. There will not be a hiring firm because the expense was not justifiable, Board President Thayne Whipple said. 
There is not currently a specific timeline on the hiring of a new superintendent, other than the fact that a replacement must be found before Cantwell leaves, Whipple continued.
“We’ll interview the ones (candidates) who we collectively feel would be a good fit for Ojai,” Whipple said. “I think some important things to note are that we have conducted a survey of teachers from the district, and received a significant amount of input from teachers as to what they’re looking for in a future superintendent.”
As well as input from teachers, the board also stresses the importance of community input in the search. The members are open to suggestions, Whipple said. Community members can contact the superintendent’s office or the board members directly with their input and opinions, as well as possible questions to ask of prospective superintendent candidates.
Whipple said he has heard from community members’ frustrations over the lack of information that has been made public about the hiring process. “Because this is an employment decision and because of the Brown Act, it’s not easy for board members to discuss a lot of this publicly,” he said. “We want to find the right person, and so we’re trying to make the search as expansive as possible.”
Whipple said: “There’s really not much we can say until we get a little closer to making a decision. I also think it’s important for people to know we have received a lot of input; and we have very much taken that input to heart and are considering the comments that we have received to dates as we look at potential candidates.
Cantwell announced his resignation at a special closed-session school board meeting Jan. 9. He said he will be head of school for Grace Academy, a private Christian school in Texas. He was assistant superintendent at OUSD prior to replacing retiring OUSD superintendent Hank Bangser in August 2017.
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