On Jan. 11, principal Brent Daniels announced his intent to accept a job offer from Berkeley Unified School District. He informed the community that his final day on campus would be Jan. 27.
Daniels said he accepted the new position, Director of Human Resources for Berkeley Unified School District, because it aligns with his personal interest in the area of human resources.
“I feel that in education, one of the most important pieces is the people who are in front of students,” Daniels said. “I’m drawn to that because I feel that human resources represents the heart and soul of a [school system].”
According to a press release issued by superintendent Randall Booker, the position is also ideal because Daniels resides in Berkeley and has deep family ties to the district’s schools.
“I knew that at one point in my career, I wanted to potentially work for Berkeley Unified School District,” Daniels said.
Daniels’s recent achievement of earning a doctorate from UC Berkeley also influenced his decision to change positions, he said. The doctorate was issued from a program called the Leadership for Educational Equity Program (LEEP).
“[LEEP] is really focused on looking at different school systems and how to move districts to achieve equitable outcomes for all students,” Daniels said. “So me shifting to a district-level position is aligned to that program’s goals.”
In the absence of Daniels, administrators Eric Mapes and Irma Muñoz will serve as co-interim principals for the remainder of the 2016-17 school year.
“I have complete faith and full confidence in both Ms. Muñoz and Mr. Mapes and their ability to provide the needed leadership to carry the school through this transition,” said Booker, who suggested the appointment.
At a school board meeting on Jan. 24, the board of education voted unanimously to ratify Booker’s suggestion.
“My rationale is really looking at the tasks that need to get accomplished between now and graduation or even past graduation,” said Booker, addressing the board. “There’s a lot to cover — it is a long list — and so I focused on how best to accomplish those tasks rather than who’s going to be the person sitting in the seat.”
Booker said that the short-term decision to hire from within was unquestioned and received overwhelming support from staff.
“I need workers, to put it mildly. I need people who can come in and continue the work that’s already started,” Booker said. “I did not entertain the idea of bringing in per say a retired principal to come in and fill a seat. That’s not the kind of work I or the staff are looking for second semester.”
Following the presentation, board of education president Andrea Swenson raised a concern regarding how Mapes and Muñoz would be supported as they take on additional responsibilities. Booker said that responsibilities have been divided and support has and will be provided depending on how those divisions play out.
Notable responsibilities for Muñoz include athletics, direct supervision for Director of Athletics Vic Acuña, and WASC district liaison duties. Mapes will be responsible for academic integrity violations, the Budget Advisory Committee, and the counseling office, among other duties.
“We’re thrilled to have Mr. Mapes and Ms. Muñoz step up as the co-interim principals and appreciate their willingness to take on more this spring; and we appreciate the staff — it will probably be a situation of many people taking on a little bit more,” board of education vice president Sarah Pearson said. “So thank you to everyone and we will miss Dr. Daniels.”
Feb. 1 marked both Daniels’s first day at his new position and the beginning of PUSD’s search for a long-term replacement. The district posted the position to an online job bulletin called Edjoin.org and will be sending brochures to colleges, universities, county offices of education, and school districts across the state.
Application requirements include at least five years of service in a public middle school or high school and the salary ranges from $117,076 – $151,523, according to the brochure.
Booker will be meeting with administrators, staff, parents, and students throughout February to ensure community input in the hiring process for the next PHS principal. A 20 member interview committee composed of students, staff, a director, school site administrators, parents, board members, and the superintendent will hold the first interview on March 21.
“It is really important that our community of educators, students, and family members have an opportunity to provide the district with input as to the desired traits and educational vision of the next PHS principal,” Booker said.
Daniels said the advice he has for Mapes, Muñoz, and whomever may fill the position next is to listen, listen, and listen — words that seem to reflect his student-centric initiatives and flashy purple pens sporting the motto TEAM (together everyone achieves more).