San Diego Unified School District has a new interim superintendent to lead the district through a tumultuous time facing all districts during the pandemic.
The board announced Monday that it had named area superintendent Lamont Jackson as interim superintendent. Just a few hours earlier, the incoming Biden administration announced it had nominated San Diego Unified's current superintendent, Cindy Marten, to be the Deputy U.S, Secretary of Education.
“San Diego has been recognized across the country, and President-elect Biden wants to bring that work to students across the county, so it’s a great day,” said board president Richard Barrera, who has worked with Marten for years.
“The core of the principle about who I am is behind me,” said Jackson, seated in front of banner with an African proverb: "I Am Here Because We Are.”
Jackson graduated from Clairemont High School and has worked for the district as a classroom teacher, principal and district administrator. With more than 25 years' experience in education, he said he is here because of the “wonderful educators and leaders” in San Diego Unified.
“I don’t exist unless we exist," Jackson said. "We have to stay committed to do this as a collective effort.”
Part of that effort will be a continued focus on early education and literacy, as well as education for all students, especially those who have been marginalized.
“My commitment to this board and this community is: We remain focused on equality and diversity and inclusion, and we are not going to be apologetic about it," Jackson said. "We recognize our Black and Brown students must be served, and we can’t compromise on that."
Getting students back to the classroom for in-person instruction is at the top of the challenges.
“We want to do it as soon as possible,” Jackson said, emphasizing that the district will continue to follow the science and not re-open schools until it is safe.
"Families are going through a great deal, and we have to be sensitive to that, and we have to lead with our hearts and our minds and our spirits," Jackson said.
Jackson is expected to stay on as interim superintendent until the end of this year.