The New Haven Board of Education has appointed two current school district officials to take the helm while they seek a permanent replacement for Kari McVeigh.
McVeigh announced in June that she will be leaving the district and taking an early retirement due to “irreconcilable differences” with the school board.
Chief Academic Officer Dr. Arlando Smith and Chief Business Officer Akur Varadarajan were appointed as co-interim superintendents during a special meeting on Friday.
“Dr. Smith and Mr. Varadarajan will provide us with stable and experienced leadership in the year ahead while the Board conducts the search process for a new permanent superintendent,” board president Linda Canlas said in a statement.
Though McVeigh will serve as superintendent until Nov. 30, the school board made Friday’s appointment to better implement the Race to the Top grant and make the transition in leadership more fluid, according to the district.
Smith and Varadarajan have worked together with McVeigh on implementing the $29 million grant, which will be spread across four-and-a-half years to personalize student learning and improve achievement.
“Making certain that RTTT continues to be properly implemented throughout the 2013-2014 school year is crucial to the District right now, and the Board is very confident that Dr. Smith and Mr. Varadarajan will get that done,” Canlas added.
Both Smith and Varadarajan have long histories in education.
Smith, who has been with the NHUSD since June 2012, was a former assistant professor of educational leadership and administration at San Jose State University and an adjunct professor of educational leadership at St. Mary’s College. He also taught at John F. Kennedy University, UC Santa Cruz and Cal State Fullerton. As well, Smith was a principal at Gunderson High Scool in San Jose and principal at Graham Middle School in Mountain View before becoming the coordinator of academic improvement for the Gilroy Unified School District.
Varadarajn has served as NHUSD’s chief business officer since April 2010. He previously worked as assistant superintendent of business services for the Salinas City Elementary School District. He also worked for the Department of Finance and the Board of Education in New York City before coming to the Bay Area in 1997, where he went on to work with the San Francisco Unified School District.
The two will take over duties after McVeigh's departure. McVeigh said in June that the school board has interfered with management decisions, making it difficult for her to do her job.
“It has become painfully obvious to me that the Board and I have irreconcilable differences about the Board’s insistence on injecting itself into management decisions,” McVeigh said. “To best serve students and staff, a Superintendent must be confident that he or she has the authority to make decisions about the day-to-day management of the District, and I no longer have that confidence.”