Acting SF schools chief vies to keep post
by Seth Hemmelgarn
The gay man who's serving as interim superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District has applied to keep the job permanently.
Myong Leigh, 46, said last summer that he didn't want to keep the top job.
"I've never seen myself as a superintendent," he said at the time. "What I'm best at is implementing work, thinking strategically," and "working to implement change rather than to be the public face of the district."
But in an email last week, Leigh, who declined an interview request, said that he'd changed his mind "after thorough deliberation."
"I'm committed to the San Francisco Unified School District and want what is best for our students, staff, and community," Leigh said. "SFUSD is a great school district, so I imagine many strong candidates are interested in this role. I know the Board of Education will carefully weigh many important considerations about what our district needs at this time."
Commissioner Mark Sanchez, the only gay member of the school board, said in an interview, "I'm supportive of [Leigh] applying. ... I have a deep amount of respect for him. Over the years, I've gotten to know him very well. He's very steady, he's honest, and he's extremely likeable and humble. I think he has a lot of the qualities we like to see in a leader. He also knows the district really well."
Leigh has worked for the district since 2000, most recently as deputy superintendent.
Former Superintendent Richard A. Carranza left the post last summer to lead the Houston Independent School District Board of Education. San Francisco's school board unanimously agreed to appoint Leigh as interim superintendent upon Carranza's departure.
Sanchez said that among other achievements, Leigh helped design the district's weighted student formula, "which allows us to use the needs of the individual student to drive the funding" for how that student is supported. "It's a better way of funding than just giving a flat amount for every student," Sanchez said.
The district received applications from 30 people for the position, Sanchez said, and the board hopes to make a selection "by the end of March or early April."
Gay San Francisco Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who's daughter is a San Francisco public school student, said that he doesn't know Leigh well, but "I think he would be a great choice," since his selection would "send a clear signal to LGBTQ students" that San Francisco's school district "is a safe and welcoming place."