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Superintendent Finalist Consults For Search Firm

Ann Dornfeld

The Seattle School Board announced its three finalists for district superintendent today: Jose Banda is the superintendent of the Anaheim City School District in California, Steven Enoch is the superintendent of California's San Ramon Valley Unified School District, and Sandra Husk is superintendent of the Salem–Keizer School District in Oregon.

The finalists will come to Seattle next week to visit schools and meet with the School Board. They'll also meet with a 25–member community focus group and the media.

KUOW's Ann Dornfeld has learned that one of the finalists is a consultant for the search firm that recruited the candidates.


When school boards are looking for new superintendents, it's common for them to hire executive search firms, also known as headhunters.

In Seattle, the board contracted with national search consultants Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, or HYA. The company focuses on superintendent searches. HYA recruited candidates for recent searches in Highline, Bellevue and Mercer Island.

Now HYA has recruited one of its own consultants for the position of Seattle superintendent. Finalist Sandra Husk is currently superintendent of Salem–Keizer School District in Oregon. She also works for HYA as a consultant on superintendent searches in other cities. Husk helped Spokane Public Schools with the search it just completed. Last year, she worked on a superintendent search in Beaverton, Oregon.

Husk says consulting districts on searches for new leaders teaches her a lot.

Sandra Husk: "For me, what I found interesting, it's like going into somebody else's house and getting to see how they do their work, or how they plan their life."

Husk says she doesn't see a conflict of interest in working for the same company that recruited her for the Seattle superintendent position, because she wasn't involved in the Seattle search.

Seattle School Board President Michael DeBell says Husk told the search committee that she worked for HYA. DeBell says it's fairly common for superintendents to work for recruiters on the side.

Michael DeBell: "The search firm had told us that this was likely to occur given that so many superintendents had worked for them at some time in their careers, so not a problem."

Sandra Husk has been superintendent of Salem–Keizer for six years. She got off to a rocky start there when she admitted lying during the hiring process. She had told a community forum that she wasn't a candidate for any other superintendent positions. In fact, she was a candidate for Tacoma superintendent.

Husk later said she lied because she'd signed a non–disclosure agreement with a superintendent search firm.

I'm Ann Dornfeld, KUOW News.

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