Highline School Board Names Three Finalists for Superintendent Position

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The Highline School District Board of Directors on Sunday (Feb. 12) named the three finalists in its search for Highline’s next superintendent:

  • Dr. Susan Enfield, currently interim Superintendent for Seattle Public Schools, and apparently also a candidate for the same position for the Bellevue School District
  • Dr. David Engle, Executive Director of Educational Testing Service in Princeton, NJ
  • Dr. Joshua Garcia, Assistant Superintendent of Federal Way Public Schools

As part of the interview process, each candidate will spend a full day in Highline, meeting staff, parents, and community members. Each day will culminate in a public forum, where the candidate will answer questions from the audience.

Public forums will be held at the Burien City Council Chambers at 400 SW 152nd Street on February 22, 23, and 24, 6:00 – 7:15 p.m. (more details here).

People who can’t be present at the forums can watch it live on channel 21 in Burien or on the internet. Viewers will also be able to send in questions via email or Twitter. Video of the forums will also be posted online, so people can watch it later.

Each candidate’s day-long visit will include a breakfast with community leaders; a school visit; meetings with principals, senior leaders, and an advisory committee made up of staff, parents, and community members; and a final interview with the school board. The board will review feedback generated in the public forums and by the other groups who have met the candidate before making a final decision.

The board expects to announce the new superintendent by March 1.

Here’s biographical info on the candidates from the school’s website:

Dr. Susan Enfield
Dr. Susan Enfield is currently the interim Superintendent for Seattle Public Schools. She came to Seattle as Chief Academic Officer from Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver, WA where she served as the Deputy Superintendent from 2006-2009.

Before moving to Washington, she was the Director of Teaching and Learning for Portland Public Schools. Prior to coming to Portland, Dr. Enfield served as the Bureau Director for Teaching and Learning Support for the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Dr. Enfield is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and earned master’s degrees in education from Stanford University and Harvard University. She also earned a doctorate in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University with a concentration in the Urban Superintendents Program.

Dr. David Engle
Dr. David Engle served as the Executive Director of Educational Testing Service in Princeton, NJ and prior to that, as superintendent of North Platte Public School District in Nebraska from 2008 to 2011.

Dr. Engle has been a high school principal in Bellingham Public Schools, Seattle Public Schools and Bellevue Public Schools. He led school transformation efforts in Seattle Public Schools and mentored teams of principals as a facilitator for the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Leadership.

Dr. Engle is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a master’s degree in Computer Education from St. Martin’s University in Lacey and a doctoral degree in Educational Administration from Seattle Pacific University.

Dr. Joshua Garcia
Dr. Joshua Garcia currently serves as Assistant Superintendent of Federal Way Public Schools; before that he was an Executive Director in Federal Way with responsibility for instruction, curriculum, assessment, and supervision of secondary schools.

Dr. Garcia previously served as principal at Federal Way’s Todd Beamer High School and assistant principal at White River High School. He currently is an adjunct professor in the University of Washington’s principal leadership program. From 2009 to 2011, he served as president of Washington State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Dr. Garcia is a graduate of Washington State University and earned a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Heritage University in Toppenish, Washington. He holds a doctoral degree in Leadership from Seattle University.

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10 Responses to “Highline School Board Names Three Finalists for Superintendent Position”
  1. Betsy says:

    I believe Susan Enfield is also a candidate for Bellevue superintendent.

  2. B says:

    From the Bellevue School District website:

    Friday, February 10, 2012
    In a special school board meeting attended by Paul Mills, Christine Chew, Chris Marks and Steve McConnell, the board passed a motion to authorize Board President Paul Mills to tell Susan Enfield that the school board considers her to be a strong candidate for the Bellevue School Superintendent position, and will consider an accelerated interview process for her pending completion of the community input forums scheduled through Thursday, February 16, 2012. Susan Enfield has expressed interest in the position and was a finalist for the position in the 2008 superintendent search process.

    A third public input session has been added. That opportunity will be Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at the Highland Middle School Library at 6:30 pm.

  3. Meg Van Wyk says:

    It is unfortunate that the Highline District School Board decided to close and keep confidential the process of selecting a new Superintendent. They should have learned from the elementary math adoption process of last year how important community involvement is. Last year we adopted a new elementary math program that involved community members, parents, staff and teachers from the very beginning. The process was transparent and inclusive. We now have a program that everyone is happy with. If parents had been able to be involved they would have learned that one of the candidates, Dr. Enfield, has a history of issues that Seattle parents are frustrated with. There is a reason why she is having to leave Seattle. Just to name a couples

    – the firing and then rehiring of a beloved high school principal, Floe

    – frustration over the Seattle math curriculum and her unwillingness to apply student data to serve the students. Two schools are using programs outside that mandated by the district (Mercer Middle school/Saxon Math, and Schmitz Park/Singapore Math) and demonstrate robust increase in student achievement. Dr. Enfield admits to knowing this data but refuses to serve the students and implement district wide.

    Is this what we want in Highline?

    Meg Van Wyk

  4. elizabeth2 says:

    Meg – We all have a right to personal opinions. You have a right to believe as you may about Dr. Enfield, but you may be surprised that many are not in agreement with you.

    To state that “there is a reason why she is having to leave Seattle” is a perhaps a bit dramatic and overstated.

    Dr. Enfield does not HAVE to leave and there are many in the Seattle schools who would wish she would consider staying. There have been huge improvements in Seattle during her interim stay as superintendent. She is endorsed by many civic groups.

    The Alliance for Education says “Interim Superintendent Susan Enfield’s leadership over the last nine months brought tremendous energy and focus to the work of the district. Her announcement … that she will not seek the permanent Superintendency is deeply disappointing.”

    It seems as if the Bellevue School District thinks highly of her as well.

    Somehow the words you use in regards to Dr. Enfield “unwillingness”, knows the data but “refuses to serve the students” suggest that you have some major issues with Dr. Enfield.

    Further, I am sure that there ARE indeed Seattle parents who may be frustrated with their superintendent – I think the same case could be made in almost any school district in the country. Some parents are frustrated, some are happy. But to state that Dr. Enfield has a “history of issues” makes her sound like she might do better being locked up!

    I would like to see a healthy slate of candidates to consider and certainly Dr. Enfield seems very qualified to be one of those considered. Let us give her a chance.

  5. Meg Van Wyk says:

    Dr. Enfield has many attributes that are appealing for the job: strong people skills, great net worker, highly visible in the community and a strong communicator. We all envy her education back round: UC Berkeley, Stanford and Harvard. This is why so many community members like her and that is understandable. But do the parents like what she has done in the short time she has been superintendent? Here is a blog post from a Seattle blogger with concerns. They mainly deal with her connections between the fired Superintendent, and her strong support of the controversial TFA program.


    My concern is over the handling of the Mercer Middle school that I mentioned earlier. Here is another blog post describing the frustration parents are having.


    In fact parents and citizens are so frustrated that they voted for a change on the Seattle school board. Enfield is rumored to be leaving the position because of the conflict between the new board and the vision that Enfield has stated. To be continued.

  6. Meg Van Wyk says:

    Now to finish. I would like to get to know the other candidates and give them an opportunity to explain to parents what they would do with a situation like Mercer Middle school. This would be an excellent question. My support will go to the candidate that makes the right choices for our Highline students!

  7. Shari says:

    I’d like to thank the District for including public forums and for giving everyone several ways to submit questions to and hear responses from the candidates. I think most of us have a general sense that the perceived quality of the local schools is a factor when people are looking to buy a home and settle down. There are also some interesting economic data (from the Federal Reserve as well as from academic researchers) that suggest a direct relationship between home prices and school test scores and other effects that the schools have on student performance. One study I read was published in 2010, well into the housing market slump and recession, so the trend seems strong. If those findings also hold true in this area (the studies I read were done in other parts of the country), then it would indicate that homeowners in Highline have something economic to gain or lose from the performance of the local schools, making the choice of Superintendent something that impacts a lot of residents, even those without kids in the public schools. Glad these interviews are open and glad everyone’s input is being solicited.

  8. Highline Harold says:

    Once again Highline spends tons of money on a nation wide Superintendent search only to end up with local finalist. The current interim Superintendent Alan Spicciati ha done a fantastic job thus far. With budgets being what they are, someone needs to be held accountable for this expensive nation wide searches.

  9. ITK says:

    There are many reasons to have reservations about Enfield. This thread on the Save Seattle Schools blog – and the 119 comments after it – paint an ugly picture of this photogenic “leader”.


  10. AnonymousBTBReader says:

    My frustration with the district is that all three candidates have direct and personal relationships with leaders already in place. How are we to be innovative and efficient when we run like an old boys club and no one is willing to challenge their “friend” or prior colleague. As a parent I want a leader that has no friendship ties with district leadership and as an employee I want someone to come in and make the district accountable for spending money on ridiculous things. Our kids do not have textbooks yet the ERAC is constantly moving furniture and walls around like it is someone’s personal living room and painting and making things pretty. I understand how run down the building seems from when I visit there but I would rather have a textbook for my child who is in High School. I’ve seen lunch provided for meetings but even if they are worked through why does the district pay when those eating it make the most money in the district and can easily afford their own meals? Why are human resource leaders and the district leaders so weak and ineffective that they are unwilling to battle the unions so that we can weed out the mediocre and non-performing? These are the questions that should be asked but won’t because no one will want to rock the boat.

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