Seattle superintendent search: 1 finalist, José Banda, remains

According to a news release just in from Seattle Public Schools, another finalist has withdrawn from the superintendent search – Dr. Sandra Husk of Salem – which leaves José Banda of Anaheim (photo right). The School Board will vote on Wednesday, and, according to the news release, asked its president Michael DeBell to call Banda last night (UPDATED 11:02 AM after the news release, with more context on the 2 withdrawals; also UPDATED 11:13 AM with district clarification that the Banda decision was made before the Husk withdrawal)

Seattle School Board to vote on Superintendent this Wednesday

Board President called José Banda Sunday night

The Seattle School Board on Sunday discussed the qualifications of the Superintendent finalists and asked Board President Michael DeBell to contact José Banda, the current Superintendent of the Anaheim City School District.

“I spoke with Mr. Banda on Sunday night and told him the Board is very interested in having him as our next leader of Seattle Public Schools. Mr. Banda expressed his willingness to accept the position if offered,” DeBell said. “We believe he is a strong fit for Seattle.”

The Board met in closed session on Sunday night. They did not take a formal vote on the candidates, but did direct DeBell to contact Mr. Banda. The full Board is expected to officially name Mr. Banda as their choice during Wednesday’s School Board meeting (May 2), and then vote on the contract on May 16. If approved, the new Superintendent would start after July 1.

On April 16 the School Board announced three finalists for Superintendent: José L. Banda, Steven W. Enoch and Sandra L. Husk. On Saturday night, Enoch withdrew his candidacy, and on Monday morning, Husk also withdrew her candidacy.

The finalists were selected as part of a national search to find the next leader for Seattle Public Schools. The hiring committee selected the three finalists using desired characteristics and traits defined by the community, including: a visionary, inspirational leader; an instructional leader who has a proven track record; a knowledgeable manager and an effective communicator. The full list of traits is outlined online at

The finalists were in Seattle during the week of April 23 to meet with the School Board and the 25-member Community Focus Group, as well as tour several Seattle schools.

ADDED 11:02 AM: Though, unlike the announcement about Enoch’s withdrawal, the district did not include a statement or e-mail from Dr. Husk, Seattle Schools Community Forum has published an item including a link to a Salem news story with her explaining why she doesn’t feel she is “a good match.”

11:13 AM UPDATE: Teresa Wippel in SPS communications clarifies that the board decided on the Banda call last night – though their formal vote and offer are still ahead – BEFORE getting word this morning of Dr. Husk’s withdrawal.

24 Replies to "Seattle superintendent search: 1 finalist, José Banda, remains"

  • WSratsinacage April 30, 2012 (10:09 am)

    I wonder why Enoch and Husk don’t want to work here? I wonder if they found out something about the area that scared them away? Although I can understand the reason Enoch gave for withdrawing. Don’t know what Husk’s reasons are. Just wondered if there is more to the story than what they are putting out there publicly.

  • add April 30, 2012 (10:18 am)

    Wow, what does it say about the state of our district when two of three finalists – finalists! – drop out after learning more. This is so disheartening. I’m hopeful that Mr. Banda will be a strong leader, but this is an unfortunate way to get him … by default?

  • Lisa Y. April 30, 2012 (10:39 am)

    I was just thinking the sme thing, I would love to know why the withdrew.

    • WSB April 30, 2012 (10:54 am)

      We published the story yesterday with Steven Enoch’s withdrawal e-mail … I will link it here in a minute. As for Dr. Husk, today’s news release did not include a statement from her, nor a reason – if we see anything later, we’ll add – TR
      Update: Of course, the wonderful Seattle Schools Community Forum has more info – a link to a Salem newspaper in which Dr. Husk explains:

  • george April 30, 2012 (11:01 am)

    Two possible reasons come to mind:

    She didn’t want to get “declined” as per her ego.
    She also stated she’d been approached for another job. Maybe she got an offer, or didn’t want to answer as to why she may not have been the chosen Seattle candidate.
    It is interesting how the final choice evolves from dropouts, instead of campaigning “to the end”. Why can’t we develop viable candidates from within?

  • JanS April 30, 2012 (11:05 am)

    Mr. Enoch said that since he is 63 years old, he didn’t want to take a position that requires something and someone for a long term commitment. I thought that good of him. He will retire in a coujple of years, and there would just be another hunt. I haven’t heard anywhere about why Ms. Husk withdrew. Maybe she’s just happier where she’s at.

    • WSB April 30, 2012 (11:18 am)

      Follow the links I added – I’m going to look for the statement quoted by the Salem publication and in turn quoted by, which included her being quoted as saying, “In my communication with people inside the district last week, it became apparent that there are competing approaches as to where the district should go and how it should get there.” The age thing was an interesting thing for Enoch to say because he’s all of 63 and the other two are 55, not really that much younger, but it’s been said that school superintendents’ tenures do not last long – 2, 3 years on average? sorry I don’t have a direct citation for that – so maybe it would make a difference. ALSO PLEASE NOTE – the district has just clarified (I added this to the story too) that the Board decided last night on the Banda call, THEN Husk’s withdrawal, says SPS communications, came in this morning – TR

  • Bob Loblaw April 30, 2012 (11:31 am)

    Have they started the search for Banda’s replacement yet?

  • km April 30, 2012 (11:38 am)

    Didn’t the new Highline Public School Superintendent leave her Seattle post because of a control issue too? Wonder what the deal is.

    Correct me if I’m wrong on this…I’m just pulling it from memory.

  • bolo April 30, 2012 (12:26 pm)

    Why didn’t Mr. Enoch remember his age earlier in the process? Might have given a chance for other talent to get involved before the competitive process got too far along.

  • WSMama3 April 30, 2012 (1:11 pm)

    Cathy Thompson – PLEASE run next time.

  • co April 30, 2012 (1:46 pm)

    Viva La Banda!
    This guy has what it takes, and seems up for the challenge. Rides bikes alot…comes across as an all around cool guy.
    Now we just have to keep an eye on him, make sure he doesn’t sell any school buildings for 10 cents on the dollar like the former Supt Goodloe-Johnson

  • 2012 Kindergartener Parent April 30, 2012 (1:53 pm)

    Sadly, Cathy Thompson is leaving for UW. WSB reported yesterday in a string of SPS news.

  • Junctionite April 30, 2012 (2:46 pm)

    Lots of difference between 55 and 63, at 55 someone might be up for a 10 year commitment, at 63 this is much less likely. Perhaps Mr. Enoch saw the district as more of a long term building task.

  • Teacher Greg April 30, 2012 (3:05 pm)

    KM, the Highline Super went to work at Puget Sound ESD (more pay, less work) so that is probably why he took that job. The current interim has worked in Highline for a while and would probably be a good fit, but Highline offered the job to Susan Enfield who will be the new super starting July 1.

  • george April 30, 2012 (3:39 pm)

    Yes, should have known that bike riding is a major asset in choosing a leader. Will that mean a parking lot diet for teachers?

  • Band geek's mom April 30, 2012 (4:29 pm)

    Having exchanged a few emails with Mr. Enoch, he is the warm, funny guy that he would appear. Putting myself in his position, I can totally understand his reticence (and perhaps his wife’s opposition to his exposure to the Seattle Times petty back-stabbing) and respect the good work he has done to date. I hope he will move to a comfortable retirement here and perhaps work with Mr. Banda on helping this district improve for everyone.

    Mr. Banda has my support.

  • Anomie 2 April 30, 2012 (6:53 pm)

    In retrospect, we actually had the best possible candidate in Enfield. But the politics of Seattle Schools drove her out. You get what you deserve and it seems we don’t deserve the best, nothing against Banda, but this district and its parents won’t take to him any more than the others.

  • jonbourn April 30, 2012 (7:24 pm)

    Ms. Husk didn’t want to go to Seattle because the Seattle school board was not willing to give up all power to her! Here in Salem the school board does nothing!! She does not even allow them to ask questions about parts of the budget and what could be changed. She tells them “We looked at every possibility and this is how it will be.” No more discussion as she cut all librarians but kept VP of sport at each High school.

    You are lucky Seattle to not be getting her.

  • Oliver April 30, 2012 (9:48 pm)

    Bienvenido! Banda has my full support and was my choice all along!

  • westelllo May 1, 2012 (5:24 pm)

    Anomie 2, could you explain what “politics” drove Enfield out? She has given a couple of reasons including that it’s personal.

  • Band geek's mom May 1, 2012 (7:05 pm)

    Yes, jonbourn, I count us VERY lucky. Hope you are delivered of her soon.

    Enfield the best?! Hardly! She is truth-challenged and good with mouthing the PR statements. Enfield left when she lost her majority on the board who would willingly rubberstamp anything as long as she kept up the act of caring about students and families. I pity Highline. They deserve better.

  • Davides May 4, 2012 (10:15 am)

    So much petty viciousness on these education blogs. Ad hominum attacks on current and past Superintendents make bloggers feel better, but do nothing to improve the climate surrounding Seattle Public Schools, a climate that is clearly hostile to the community’s goals for its children.

    Just look at the facts of where things stand today: after the third nationwide search in just a handful of years, what have been the results? A LOT of money spent on the process and 10 finalists chosen. In this latest search, two of the three finalists withdrew after a good close-up look at the SPS environment, leaving the District, once again, with a Hobson’s Choice. Once again, because that is precisely what happened with the last search: two of the three finalists dropped out, and SPS was left only with Maria Goodloe-Johnson. So she got the job, until she was fired. Nice work. But the search prior to that one, if memory serves, produced 4 finalists, ALL of whom withdrew. So much money spent on a process with results like this is not money well-spent.

    Start connecting the dots…plenty of folks apply for the position, but once they get close enough to assess the reality of the job, they bolt.

    Of most interest currently is the bizarre case of Susan Enfield. This is a woman of unmatched credentials (compare hers with that of the incoming superintendent Jose Banda). She has the job literally dumped on her after the MGJ firing, and inherits a district in turmoil (by now the new normal for SPS). She restores confidence and credibility in less than six months, and becomes, by polling results, the most admired public figure in the Seattle Metropolitan area. Obviously not the most admired by people on this and other blogs, filled with detractors insisting on the superiority of their own parochial policy preferences, for which they have no formal training or responsibility.

    So what does the Board do at this point: one member suggests that perhaps the Board should directly hire all 96 principals in the District, another wonders if offering Enfield a one-year contract and then re-assessing the situation at that point makes sense. Shortly thereafter, Enfield announces that she will not accept the permanent appointment as Superintendent, thus joining the ranks of the 80% of finalists who said the same thing.

    It is astonishing that so many still publicly wonder why Enfield is leaving. I admire her for keeping her own counsel with regard to her motivation, but how difficult is it to figure this one out???

    Those are the basic facts. Readers here can color things anyway they wish (and they always do) but facts are too stubborn to be dislodged.

    Something is endemically wrong with District governance, and it has nothing to do with the passionate policy differences the blogging community has with the District staff. A member of the City Council said as much: the post-November election disarray calls into question the entire matter of Board governance and even how the community goes about electing same.

    It isn’t policy or performance of the staff. Connect the dots.

    • WSB May 4, 2012 (10:35 am)

      This isn’t an “education blog” and not even a blog at all (the name, unfortunately, is legacy). It’s a news website, where people, including you, are welcome to comment, as they are on 99.9 percent of news websites, but please don’t refer to “bloggers” as if there were any here, as there are not. This site is reported, written, and edited by professional journalists, and if you mean commenters, they’re commenters, not “bloggers” – a term which really should go away, period, as it is seldom used in any but a derisive manner by those who seek to separate people who write in blog format from those who write in legacy formats. Thanks! – Tracy (WSB editor)

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