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New Interim Superintendent for San Ysidro Schools

November 10, 2017

By Mario A. Cortez

Mary Willis

Following the resignations of its former superintendent and interim superintendent, the San Ysidro School District has chosen a Los Angeles-based education consultant to take the helm while a permanent replacement is found.

At its monthly School Board meeting held on Thursday night, Mary Willis was officially hired by the District to serve as interim superintendent.

“It is my deepest hope that we’ll all work together towards making every decision based on what works best for students,” Willis said after her contract was finalized. “I hope to put procedures in place that assure fiscal transparency for the Board and community when making recommendations for those student-based decisions,” she added.

On Monday, the Board of Trustees held a special meeting with the purpose of finding a new, temporary head administrator, a decision which was prompted by former interim superintendent Jose Arturo Sanchez Macias’ resignation on Friday, Nov. 3 amid allegations that he took illegal payouts.

Following a series of candidate interviews and a five-hour closed session meeting, District Trustees announced that they chose Willis as their new superintendent.

“I love interim work, it keeps me current and I would be happy to support the District,” Willis said at Monday’s meeting.

Board members emphasized that they expect to launch a formal search process to find a permanent superintendent, which could take two to three months. In the meantime, Willis is expected to help stabilize the District after the resignation of its superintendent and deputy superintendent during the past two months.

During Willis’ 40 year career in education, she has served as a teacher, school principal in the Lodi School District, an assistant superintendent of human resources at the Montebello Unified and San Mateo Foster City districts, and most recently acted as president of her own educational and human resources consulting company.

Willis’ interim superintendent contract was approved unanimously by the School Board, and included a per day salary of $1,000 with a maximum of 42 work days, and reimbursement for expenses not to exceed $10,000 during her contract.

This temporary addition to District leadership is seen by some as a welcome change as the District has been shaken by former superintendents becoming involved in scandals such as pay-to-play schemes, sexual harassment complaints, and, most recently, illegal cashing out of unearned benefits.

“I’m especially interested in meeting parents and community members from each of the schools and learning about teacher and staff aspirations for the SYSD’s future,” Willis said after Thursday’s meeting.

Willis’ first day at work will be Friday, Nov. 11.

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