An interview with former Superintendent Sharon McClain

Dr. Sharon McClain was hired by the Del Mar Union School District after a nationwide search and became the new superintendent in 2008 after Tom Bishop was released. McClain, the former superintendent of Hermosa Beach City School District moved to San Diego from Long Beach, living apart from her husband Joe Condon, also a former superintendent.

In coming to Del Mar, McClain said she knew there were some problems but thought she could help move the district forward. A year and a half later, on March 31,

McClain was fired

  1. Here she shares some thoughts about the board's decision and her plans to file a lawsuit against the district.

Have you decided to sue the district?

I am moving forward. My lawyers and I talked about how to move forward and what to do and we'll file papers. I'm letting him just take care of that. We talked about why and my basic reasoning is that the hardest thing for me is that when you worked in a profession almost 30 years and somebody accuses you of doing something bad so they can fire you and they're not clear with you what that is — it's my reputation.

And I know other superintendents have lost their jobs in California over the years, many of them have. But that's why we have a contract so there are some protections for you.

And the board didn't follow my contract either. They were supposed to have evaluated me by May 15 of last year; they didn't give me an evaluation until August so they breached my contract.

There are things like that in other districts but the board has at least honored the contract and this board refused to honor my contract. We had negotiated, agreed to a buyout of 12 instead of 18 months, which education codes gives me. We were negotiating to make it even less than that and I was willing to work with them but they just stopped negotiating.

I think they think this is the easy way out. But they haven't treated me fairly. I don't feel that I've been fairly treated.

Do you feel that the suit will take away from the children? It's definitely going to cost the district. There's no way around it. But I didn't make this choice the board made this choice. They chose for me. I wouldn't have left. I would've worked on and did the best that I could and I was doing the best that I could do under the circumstances. And so I didn't make the choice. I feel like if the board hadn't done what they did I would still be in my office today instead of here talking to you.

What were some of the things you enjoyed about being superintendent here?

First of all Del Mar is really a wonderful district. The first thing it's got that's the best thing of all, it's got great kids.

Then you've got parents who are really involved and willing to step up and do all kinds of jobs in the schools. You can't go on a school campus that you don't have a parent working somewhere, doing something.

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