The Santa Clara County Office of Education announced Tuesday that Jon Gundry is the lone finalist to take over as superintendent of schools.
Gundry has more than 30 years of experience in education and currently serves as the superintendent for Pasadena Unified School District. He is negotiating a contract with the county Board of Education and could start as early as Aug. 1, according to a SCCOE press release. Approval of a deal is expected to come at the July 16 board meeting.
Board President Leon Beauchman praised the decision in the county press release, saying Gundry’s time spent in county and district offices make him “well-suited” for the job.
But the SCCOE has repeatedly said it wants a superintendent to help eliminate the achievement gap, and a recent report did not give Gundry a passing grade. Earlier this month the Pasadena Star-News reported that Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) “received an overall ‘D’ grade and an ‘F’ when it came to improvement of low-income and minority students.”
Ed Honowitz, a state education policy advisor who formerly served on the PUSD board, wrote in a letter to Gundry: “It is one of only three districts in the county with this low a ranking. Pasadena has fallen to 140 of the 146 districts surveyed statewide for academic improvement for low income students.”
In his current position, which he has held the last three years, Gundry has overseen an 18,000-student district, according to the SCCOE. He will be tasked with leading an office that has been consistently plagued by dysfunction and turnover at the top. If all goes as planned, Gundry will succeed Mary Ann Dewan to become the seventh person to serve as the SCCOE’s superintendent—permanent or acting—in the last seven years.
A recent report by San Jose Inside focused on the SCCOE’s attempts to block the release of information following a previous investigation that uncovered more than a half-million dollars in waste that could have helped local foster youth.
In a statement released through the county, Gundry said he was “honored” to get the job. “The Board and the office have undertaken the most important work there is and that is to meet the needs of our most at-risk students, and to hold the highest expectations of all our districts and schools in serving students well,” he said.
Below is the full SCCOE press release on Gundry’s expected hire:
Jon R. Gundry, currently the Superintendent of the Pasadena Unified School District, has been selected as the sole finalist to be the next Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools, with official approval expected at the regularly scheduled board meeting on July 16. The Board is in the process of negotiating an employment contract with Mr. Gundry, with an expected start date of August 1.
This announcement comes after Board President Leon Beauchman and Board members Grace Mah and Joseph Di Salvo recently conducted a site visit with Superintendent Gundry and members of his staff, Board and community leaders.
“We are very excited to have Superintendent Gundry join us in Santa Clara County. He brings a wealth of experience, both at the county office level as well as from a district perspective. Jon’s collaborative and thoughtful management style is well-suited to serve the County Office staff, local districts and the community at large. The Board was also impressed with his ability to address the challenges of an ethnically diverse community and his focus on ensuring that all students are acquiring the essential 21st century skills needed to succeed in school and in college,” said Board President Leon Beauchman.
“On behalf of the Board, I also want to acknowledge and thank the Search Committee for its commitment and contribution to the process, and Interim Superintendent, Dr. Mary Ann Dewan for her dedication in guiding the organization during this period of transition,” Beauchman said.
Gundry has served as Superintendent of Pasadena Unified, a district of 18,000 students, since he was appointed by the Board of Education in July 2011. He has over three decades of experience as a teacher, principal and instructional leader.
“I am honored to be selected for this position and to join the team at the Santa Clara County Office of Education. The Board and the office have undertaken the most important work there is and that is to meet the needs of our most at-risk students, and to hold the highest expectations of all our districts and schools in serving students well,” said Gundry.
Before his tenure with Pasadena Unified, Gundry served as Deputy Superintendent of the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) from 2008 to 2010. Gundry was appointed Interim Superintendent of LACOE in September 2010. As Chief Executive Officer for LACOE and Secretary of the County Board of Education, he was responsible for the financial and academic success of 80 school districts serving over two million children, with $16 billion in school district funding.
Prior to joining LACOE, Gundry served in the Houston Independent School District beginning in 1982. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Spanish from Northern Arizona University and a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from Houston Baptist University.