SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is preparing for the upcoming school year by commencing the search for a new superintendent and addressing the longstanding issues that face the district.

SMMUSD held meetings throughout the day on Thursday, June 16, to address several matters that have been facing the district.

Superintendent Sandra Lyon resigned in May after holding the position for 5 years, with plans to take the same position at Palms Unified Springs School District. Her resignation is effective as of July 1.

The board plans to hire an interim superintendent at the end of June, and held a closed meeting on Thursday to assess four potential candidates for the position. The interim superintendent would start in July.

The closed session was followed by an open discussion between board members and education reformist Pedro Noguera, who was hired by the district to address the significant academic achievement gaps between minority students and their peers.

The district’s Board of Education has launched a confidential search for a full-time replacement and hired Leadership Associates Executive Search Advisors for additional recruitment assistance.

Consultants from the search firm led two meetings hosted by SMMUSD on Thursday night to solicit input from the community and gain a deeper insight into what they might want in a superintendent.

SMMUSD Spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said the meeting would focus on two primary questions: “What are the desirable qualities, characteristics, background, and experiences (professional and personal) for the next superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District? And, what do you see as the strengths of the district and the major challenges facing the district in the years ahead?”

Both meetings were held from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., one taking place at John Muir Elementary School and one at Malibu High School.

Input from the meetings will be compiled and sent to the board to develop a recruitment brochure, the overall recruitment process, and the district’s selection of a new superintendent.

The district also established an online survey, including room for comments, in English at and in Spanish at

The new appointed head of the district, with an enrollment of approximately 11,000, is faced with closing the achievement gap for minority students and continuing negotiations to allow Malibu to secede and form its own district.

Active recruitment from a new superintendent starts in July and August with an application deadline of mid-September.