CONCORD -- The Mt. Diablo school board is poised to appoint Nellie Meyer, a deputy superintendent in the San Diego district, as its new superintendent on Wednesday.
According to her proposed contract, Meyer would earn $243,000 a year for three years, with the contract renewable after June 30, 2016. She would also receive a $2,000 a year stipend for her advanced degrees and a one-time moving expense allocation not to exceed $11,000.
"Meeting her, we saw a very competent, well-spoken, articulate individual who was not overbearing, but confident in who she is," said Trustee Barbara Oaks. "And she had good responses, really talking about collaboration and communication and that being a real key to working within your community -- getting to know your community, learning who they are and getting out to schools."
In a Friday phone interview, Meyer said she was excited about working in a district that spans from preschool to adult education because she can help educate students throughout their school years.
"I'm very interested in a district that has diversity and has academic challenges, but has also had great success," she said. "And what I see in Mt. Diablo is a community that really wants to have an extremely high-performing school district and is very close to being there. So I look at it as a challenge of working together in a team and that's something I really love to do."
Board President Cheryl Hansen said four trustees traveled to the San Diego district for a closed session meeting Wednesday with members of seven "stakeholder" groups: the superintendent's cabinet; district administrators; site administrators; classified staff such as custodians and secretaries; certificated staff such as teachers; members of community and advisory groups; and parents, business and college leaders.
"As our interviews with these groups were a closed session personnel matter," Hansen said in an email, "I will not be releasing the names of the individuals who participated."
This was different from the open meeting the former board held in West Sacramento in 2009 when it interviewed similar stakeholders before hiring former Superintendent Steven Lawrence. He was ousted earlier this year after the board decided in April to seek new leadership due to lack of trust and low employee morale.
San Diego parent Judy Neufeld said in a phone interview that she told Mt. Diablo trustees during a public comment period before Wednesday's closed session that nine parents had filed a grand jury complaint that named Meyer as a district administrator who failed to report suspected child abuse to proper authorities.
Parent Sally Smith attempted to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting but was barred from entering the building by San Diego school district police, who told her it was a private meeting.
San Diego's police chief later apologized, saying he had been given misinformation by someone at the district.
Smith and parent Susan Hopps-Tatum said in phone interviews that Meyer stalled the efforts of a school safety task force to create a policy dealing with adult bullying of children.
"I personally experienced and saw her placate and patronize parents," Hopps-Tatum said in an email, "all the while acting convicted but doing nothing."
Meyer said she was working with the school safety task force, but that there were some personnel issues she couldn't discuss. She did say that the human resources department handled most of the complaints.
Other parents and former San Diego Superintendent Bill Kowba, who retired in June, disagreed with those who filed the complaint, saying Meyer is responsive. Parent Bob Turner called Meyer his "go-to person" when he wanted to discuss concerns.
"I think you're going to find her engaging," he said. "And her hands-on approach -- you'll love it."
Parent Gloria Tran said Meyer has integrity and is supportive of children.
"Mt. Diablo is very, very lucky to get her," she said. "I'm devastated that she's leaving. She is so wonderful. She is approachable, she is accessible, she listens and she does what's in the best interests of children."
Kowba said Meyer worked her way up based on one success after another.
"She led by example, she listened to people, formed teams, problem-solved and worked in the best interests of kids," he said. "I strongly believe she is ready to be a superintendent."