Transition is hard. We expect that will be the case at the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, where trustees Thursday night voted to fire both their superintendent and their attorney.

Board members will face criticism from those who were loyal to Superintendent Steve Lawrence and District Counsel Greg Rolen. But make no mistake: Those two had to go.

Lawrence from the day he arrived in 2010 played political advocate rather than district administrator, enmeshing himself inappropriately in that year's bond measure campaign.

Rather than provide the impartial financial analysis so desperately needed, he rushed down the advocacy path, misleading voters who only later figured out the full cost of the measure. The board later had to restructure the deal when it finally acknowledged the scheme's outrageous financing costs.

From there, it was downhill for Lawrence. There was the behind-the-scenes extension of the contracts for him, Rolen and three others. Disenchantment with administration at Clayton Valley High sparked the largest teacher-led conversion to a charter school in Northern California. Then Lawrence and two board members secretly commissioned a financial analysis of the charter, which they hid from the public and other trustees.

As for Rolen, he never understood that his role was help the board and the district follow the law. Rather he behaved like a gatekeeper of information, fending off legitimate attempts by members of the public and the press to obtain public records.


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It took a new board majority following the November election to do what should have been done years ago: fire both of them.

Where does that leave the district of about 33,000 students? Most of the challenges remain the same. The district will continue to struggle for money to fairly compensate its teachers and provide children an excellent education.

That's why trustees need a permanent new superintendent with keen financial acumen and motivational leadership skills, one who can balance the books without dumping debt onto future generations and inspire teachers and students to excel under less-than-perfect conditions.

The district needs someone with backbone to warn the board members when they head down an ill-advised path. Someone who brings creativity to the pedagogical process. Someone who can set goals for growth, yet recognizes that the ends don't justify improper means. Someone who can rally students, teachers, parents and administrators to work together for a common goal -- a better education for the kids.

As for their new attorney, trustees must find someone who will keep the district out of legal quagmires, ensure the board operates under the state laws of transparency and respect that the public -- even those with whom district leaders might disagree -- has a legitimate right to information.

The searches for new leaders will take time. They should not be rushed. There will be bumps in the road, but we applaud the board majority that has steered the district down this new leadership route.