Speaking in a sincere and steady voice, Culver City Unified School Superintendent Leslie Lockhart announced her resignation, effective this coming June, at the school board meeting on April 13, 2021. Citing recent health challenges, she opened her heart to the board and the administrative staff about how proud she was of all that the district had accomplished and survived, and that her departure would open the way for even more innovation and creativity.
In a letter that went out to families, Lockhart stated “Last year has been incredibly challenging; for many of our teachers, staff, and administrators, this has been the most taxing year of their careers. It has been for me as well. As many of you know, I have had some recent health challenges, and this has been an opportunity for me to reflect on what is truly important in my life. Tonight, it is with mixed, deep and loving emotions that I announce to the board and to the community that I will be retiring as Superintendent of CCUSD, effective June 30, 2021.”
Board President Dr. Tashon McKethian took in the news, saying “You will be leaving the district better than you found it and your legacy will be forever felt.”
Board member Dr. Steve Levin told the meeting “We just got this [resignation] in closed session this evening, so this is why you are seeing so much emotion; it’s still very fresh for all of us, too.”
All members of the school board, from the most recently elected Paula Amazola to the long serving Dr. Kelly Kent and Summer McBride, offered their sincere and heartfelt thanks to Lockhart for all that she had steered the district through.
McBride said “You have treated this as more than a job, and because you are [also] a parent, it is more than a job. I had the honor of being on this board when we decided that you would be the person to get us through the last transition. You built genuine, authentic relationships, and you cared deeply.”
In Lockhart’s communication with the students and parents in regard to her resignation, she noted how much has changed at the district in the time she has been here. “Since I first came to CCUSD as an Assistant Principal of CCHS in 1998, our mission as a school district has evolved. Today, we are responsible for so much more than just reading, writing, and mathematics. We are addressing the needs of the whole child. And we know that the life of our students does not begin and end at the classroom door. CCUSD has created programs that ensure that no child is so hungry both on days when they are on campus and on days that they are not. Over the past 22 years in CCUSD, I have been so proud to be part of a school district that adds opportunities for students at all levels to pursue the arts, athletics, and academics.”
Lockhart finished her moment at the meeting by offering “As my time at the district comes to a close, I cherish every moment I’ve spent here, even the hard ones. This is where I’ve had some of my best times and the most inspirational times in my life.”
The board will begin the search to fill the role immediately, looking for new talent at [email protected]
With that huge milestone, the meeting went back into the business at hand of reopening, focused on challenges around staffing and successes at creating safe classroom space.
The district has already brought elementary school students back for live classes, and this coming week, beginning April 19, will be bringing back middle and high school students to campus.
To a small school district, such as ours, losing a superintendent like Leslie Lockhart, is traumatic. It feels like we’re losing a close family member. But, to have two other administrators also leave should be quite telling and should be taken as a warning to parents and local citizens that something is not right within our district’s hierarchy.
School Boards are elected to set school district policy and to oversee district spending. They are supposed to step back and let the trained educators implement their decisions in ways that are best for our students.
Instead of losing anymore district administrators, maybe the public needs to look into ridding this board of members who are trying to micro-manage the daily affairs of our district and not letting trained educators do their jobs.
It is hoped that this time around the senior board members will take this upcoming superintendent search much more seriously and will better vet their chosen candidate than the one from a couple of years ago. When, after hiring their new superintendent, the Board decided that he was not a good fit for them and fired him (without cause) before he had even finished his first full year on the job—a decision that cost our district almost $500,000 in dispensation.
Hope all is well with you. I missed you at the MLK celebration on January 15.