The Inglewood Unified School District has found a new state administrator. Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced last week that San Jose Unified Supt. Vincent Matthews has been appointed to replace Dr. Don Brann, who said in June that he would be stepping down.
In addition to San Jose, Matthews was superintendent at the Oakland School District, which was returned to local control under his leadership. Matthews was also the head of the San Diego School District, which is the second-largest district in the state.
Matthews will become the fourth administrator for Inglewood since the state took over in 2012. He will assume the position on Oct. 19.
"As we enter a new phase in the path toward local control, building on a strong financial foundation with robust academic programs is my priority," Torlakson said. "There are very few leaders who have led districts under state receivership and Dr. Matthews is one of them. His experience and passion are the right fit at the right time for the Inglewood school community."
Matthews said, “Inglewood students deserve a world-class education, and I am eager to work with teachers, parents, and the Inglewood community to realize every student’s potential. It will take a sense of urgency and a spirit of collaboration, and I have no doubt we can deliver a high-quality education in every classroom and return local control to the elected school board.”
After struggling for years, Inglewood schools received a $55 million line of credit in exchange for giving up local control, making it the ninth California school district to enter receivership. The district has since drawn $29 million in credit, which must be repaid within 20 years.
Brann joined Inglewood in 2013, after coming out of retirement as superintendent of the Wiseburn School District. In June he announced that IUSD had a balanced budget.
“I’m proud of the 27 months that I served there and that I was able to balance a budget that’s had deficits for many years,” he said. “It’s a lot of responsibility, that job. I’ve been doing it since 1980 so it’s somewhat of a release.
According to the Inglewood Teachers Assn. (ITA) website, ITA leadership met with Torlakson twice after learning about Brann's departure. “At both meetings we made it crystal clear that input from ALL stakeholders must be a top priority before he appoints the next administrator. It's disappointing that Tom Torlakson made this decision without genuine stakeholder input.”
“We had problems with Brann but we were starting to build a relationship. We were moving in the right direction. Then they abruptly got rid of him and brought in someone else,” said Christopher Graeber, field representative for the California Professional Employees. “We just hope some of the good things Brann did are incorporated into the new things Matthews is doing.”
Despite reports that suggest Brann resigned, he said he neither resigned nor retired. “All I said that night was that I would be transitioning out and working with (Torlakson) to make a smooth path from my work to the next trustee,” he said. Brann said he wishes Matthews and the district success.
“I’m thrilled that someone of his (Matthews) background, experience and track record of success would be coming to head our school district,” Inglewood Mayor James Butts said. “He’s the expert but I believe he will provide a sense of stability, provide a medium-range vision for the improvement of our education system and that he’ll provide an immediate focus on the state of our school facilities for the children.”