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San Dieguito Union High School District board selects Robert Haley as new superintendent

Robert Haley
Robert Haley Courtesy

The San Dieguito Union High School District board has appointed Robert Haley as the new superintendent, pending negotiation and approval of an employment contract. The board voted 4-1 in closed session on Sept. 13 to select Haley, who has served as the superintendent of the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District in Sonoma County for the past seven years.Trustee John Salazar was the sole vote in opposition of Haley’s appointment.

Haley is a former member of the United States Marine Corps Reserve and has over 25 years of experience in education, serving as a teacher, principal and district level administrator in six school districts. He has a master’s degree in special education from Chapman University and a doctorate in educational leadership from the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California.

“Dr. Haley is the ideal superintendent for our district,” said San Dieguito Union School District (SDUHSD) President Beth Hergesheimer. “He believes in the team approach to leadership, actively listening, collaborating and focusing decision-making on what is best for students. His school finance acumen and his special education background match with some challenges SDUHSD is facing.”

The board will vote to approve the contract at its next board meeting on Thursday, Oct. 11.

Haley was selected following a national search conducted by Hazard Young Attea and Associates (HYA) this summer. The board was seeking a superintendent with experience at the middle school and high school levels and was guided by the leadership profile that HYA developed following numerous interviews and community meetings.

“I want to thank everyone who participated in the process by completing surveys, attending meetings and being interviewed,” Hergesheimer said. “We paid very close attention to the feedback we received and considered that feedback when we made our decision.”

The board spent two full days interviewing candidates on Sept. 7 and Sept. 8, which trustee Amy Herman said provided a great opportunity to do a “deep-dive” and learn more about the top choices. Salazar said business commitments kept him out of the state and country so he didn’t attend any of the interviews.

“I’m very happy with the selection we’ve made,” Herman said of Haley, who was complimented for his work supporting effective board governance; his demeanor and ethics; his knowledge of school business and funding; his experience as a special education teacher and director; his curriculum and program development capabilities; and his familiarity with and commitment to San Dieguito for the long-term.

Hergesheimer said Haley is well-versed regarding school finance issues and the operational aspects of school district management. During his time at Cohati-Rohnart Park Unified, the district was recognized by both the College Board and the Ed-Data Consortium for its curriculum improvements.

He serves on the State of California Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team Board of Directors and is known for his research and work on school safety — he is a member of the Association of California School Administrators’ Fatal School Violence Task Force.

Haley is married and has four children, with his youngest being a senior in high school. His wife of 25 years is also an educator and is currently an elementary school principal.

“This was a family decision, we love the San Diego area and it has long been our desire to relocate here and put down roots,” Haley said. “The communities that make up the district are all unique and wonderful places to live. San Dieguito Union High School District is a great school district and one I am honored to have the opportunity to lead.”

With the appointment, Interim Superintendent Larry Perondi said his role at the district is now winding down—he was brought on in July and helped the board through the transition and successfully prepared the district to start the school year.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure,” said Perondi who will return to his retirement. “What a great district, what a wonderful place to work. You should be so proud of your kids and your staff.”

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