Donald Evans. Photo: Hayward Unified School District
Donald Evans. Photo: Hayward Unified School District

A national search for a new Berkeley schools superintendent has ended practically right next door in Hayward with the announcement Friday morning that Donald Evans has been chosen by the School Board as its preferred finalist for the position.

Evans has been superintendent of the Hayward Unified School District since 2011, and has previously worked in Compton, Oakland and East Palo Alto. He started out as an elementary school teacher in San Diego in 1988.

Karen Hemphill, Berkeley School Board president, said Evans’ range of experiences — with elementary and secondary students, and struggling students as well as high-performers — and his long history in California set him apart from the pack.

“He also is a person who’s very well-regarded in his current district as well as where he had been formerly,” Hemphill said. “During the background check, people described him as collegial and talked about his leadership style. People like him. He has had to deal with some difficult situations and, while we may not have the same issues here in Berkeley, it certainly does speak to how he would handle complex situations.”

Hemphill said Evans has also been through a successful parcel tax process — Measure G last year in Hayward — noting that Berkeley’s parcel tax will be up for renewal in 2016. 

According to Friday morning’s announcement from the district, Evans’ selection by the board was unanimous. The process began in early February when the Board hired Ray and Associates to assist in the search for a new superintendent. The district received 70 applicants for the position, invited semi-finalists for interviews in March, and narrowed the field to finalists in early April.

“As part of the application and interview process, the consultants conducted a thorough and independent background check of each finalist,” according to the statement. “Now that Dr. Evans has been unanimously identified as a finalist, the Board will conduct an additional in-depth review through a site visit of his current district before considering a contract.”

If hired, Evans would be expected to begin work on July 1, 2013.

Evans was not available for comment Friday, but said, according to the district’s statement, that he’s passionate about “equitable outcomes” for all students, and said that “every day counts” in the effort to prepare youth “to be competitive in a global economy.” He wrote: “It is easy for me to fully embrace Berkeley’s vision because I completely believe in it.”

According to his biography, curriculum and professional development have been key areas of interest for Evans throughout his career. In 2010, he earned his doctorate from the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, in association with the Leadership in Educational Equity Program. His dissertation topic was on “Understanding Why Principals Leave or Stay in Challenging Schools.” He received his master’s in education from United States International University, and his bachelor’s from University of Delaware. Evans is originally from Lewes, Del.

Last August, the district announced plans to name Edmond Heatley as the new school superintendent, but Heatley withdrew his application after facing scrutiny about his political views. School administrators Javetta Cleveland and Neil Smith have been serving as acting co-superintendents since the fall. Former Berkeley schools Superintendent Bill Huyett retired last June.

School board launches new superintendent search [02.13.13]
School board forum displays strong anti-Broad views [09.28.12]
BUSD board vows to be more inclusive in new chief search [09.20.12]
Heatley withdraws candidacy for BUSD superintendent [09.18.12]
Likely new Berkeley school superintendent under scrutiny [09.05.12]
Berkeley school district names likely superintendent [08.31.12]

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...