San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten has been nominated to join president-elect Joe Biden’s administration, it was announced Monday.
Biden announced his nominations for several more key administration posts, including naming Marten as his choice for Deputy Secretary of Education.
Marten was named SDUSD’s Superintendent in 2013 following a unanimous vote by the Board of Education. She previously worked as a teacher and has a 32-year career in education.
The San Diego County native Marten said in a statement Monday morning that she was "honored" by the nomination.
"Therefore, I will be leaving my post as your Superintendent, following confirmation by the United States Senate," she said in her statement.
"I have already spoken with Secretary-designate Miguel Cardona, and I have never been more optimistic about the future of the American education system. I have also spoken with the San Diego Unified Board of Education to ensure a seamless transition. Everyone remains focused on providing our students with a full recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic."
Marten went on to express gratitude to San Diego students for being a source of inspiration. She also thanked parents, educators, support staff, board members, administrators, and "everyone who has allowed me to be part of your own incredible life journey."
The NAACP was critical of Marten's nomination, citing data from a 2019 study, "When They Teach US: The Education of Black Children in San Diego" that showed Black students in the district are suspended and expelled at a disproportionate rate compared to other students.
"It’s just concerning that the district has a track record of these expulsions and suspensions as early as kindergarten, and [President-elect Biden] takes that superintendent and makes them the deputy superintendent of schools across the nation. That, we have an issue with that at the NAACP," said Katrina Hasan Hamilton, Education Chair of the NAACP's San Diego branch.
"We've been in the business of decreasing the number of suspensions and expulsions and we know that we've got to take that next step. The district is going to continue to work on that. That's not over with."
SDUSD Board Vice President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne hasn't always seen eye-to-eye with Marten. In 2019 she voted not to extend Marten's contract because of several issues at Lincoln High School in southeast San Diego.
Now that Lincoln is on the right path, Whitehurst-Payne gives Marten's nomination a thumbs up. Whitehurst-Payne noted Marten turned San Diego Unified into a model district by getting students the gear they needed to learn from home.
"We already had electronic devices for our children because we had the bond money. We immediately put in a plan to distribute them so that we didn't have to buy them on the market like other people did, and they were all scrambling around trying to get electronic devices," she explained.
Following Marten's nomination, SDUSD’s Board of Education appointed Lamont Jackson as interim superintendent through the remainder of the school year. Jackson currently serves as one of five area superintendents for the district, representing elementary and middle schools in the Clairemont, Mira Mesa and University City areas.
According to a biography from San Diego State University, Jackson has 25 years of experience in education, starting in the classroom and moving his way up to principal, staffing administrator and then area superintendent. He grew up in San Diego and graduated from the district he now serves. Jackson holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology/Social Sciences from SDSU and a Master's Degree from the University of San Diego.