TVUSD hires new superintendent 

Dr. Woods was selected to be the new TVUSD superintendent.

Jessica Ussher, Valley News Investigative Reporter

The Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) Board of Trustees voted to hire Dr. Gary Woods as its new superintendent during the Nov. 14 regularly scheduled board meeting.

The vote comes after a nationwide search, followed by narrowing the candidates who applied to a field of finalists and interviews by the board.

“I could not be more satisfied with the rigorous process undertaken by the board in selecting Dr. Woods for appointment as the next Superintendent of our district,” said Dr. Joseph Komrosky, President of the TVUSD Board of Trustees. “Dr. Woods is highly qualified for this position and has demonstrated a passion for advancing the educational well-being of our community’s children through this process. I cannot wait for the TVUSD community to get to know Dr. Woods and see him in action.”

Komrosky’s views were shared by the board majority members Danny Gonzalez and Jennifer Wiersma, who spoke of Dr Woods’ tenacity, fitting credentials, and experience for the position. Gonzalaz said, “This is exactly what this district needs.”

However, the two minority board members were critical of the selection process and alleged a lack of transparency throughout the deliberations. Board member Steven Schwartz said that although it was stipulated in the contract the board signed with the firm Hazard, Young, and Associates (HYA), as a board member, he still needs to receive application materials for the selected candidates. 

“I did not see any application materials, CVs, resumes, or anything of that nature,” said Schwartz. Schwartz continued, “Nobody presented me with a slate of candidates to consider or asked me for a recommendation. As far as I am concerned, the facade of openness and communication with parents and stakeholders has not been done in this process, and I believe it is a sham.”

Board member Allison Barclay echoed Schwartz’s sentiment, stating that “the lack of openness is unfair to the community.”

In response to the process complaint by Schwartz and Barclay, President Komrosky said, “The board decided in closed session the parameters by which Mr. Ali, the Lead Associate for HYA, engaged the TVUSD community regarding the superintendent candidate process. Mr. Ali was very professional in his collaborative efforts working with the board, TVUSD staff, and our local community. As a result, I’m very excited at the outcome of this fair and competitive search, as TVUSD deserves no less.”

Responding to the complaints about the hiring process echoed by Schwartz, Director Wiersma spoke of the many positions and departments Mr. Woods has held in experience and how he can relate to classified employees, teachers, and administration. “He’s also been a superintendent. He will step into this role, understanding so many of you. Beverly Hills isn’t Temecula, but my gosh…As he talked through the bonds, the lawsuit, and the taxes, he was transparent. So I understand Mr. Schwartz saying we didn’t see this resume before us, but we heard the presentation. We watched the resume come to life. We listened to him.” 

She thanked HYA for the high caliber of individuals brought to the board and said, “We actually functioned so well yesterday, asking questions and having these people share their hearts with us. It was an honor to be with them.”

According to board members, speaking to the inclusion of parents and stakeholders, there were questionnaires/surveys completed by various stakeholders in the selection process and taken into account by HYA and the candidates who interviewed for the position.

The new Superintendent, Dr Woods, a 33-year veteran of public and private school teaching and leadership, began his career in Turlock, California. He was a high school English teacher and athletics coach and was honored as the California Mentor Teacher and the Central California Conference Athletics Coach of the Year. 

At Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) in Santa Cruz County, Dr. Woods served as a Zone Superintendent. He was then hired in 2007 as a Superintendent in San Marino and garnered recognition with K through 12 top-performing schools in four consecutive years.

In 2011, Dr. Woods was hired as Superintendent of the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD), where he advanced the planning and development of a $350 million facilities bond intended to modernize aging school buildings. He also instituted a community-based academic advisory team and a finance advisory team to tackle the dominant issues of the day.

According to Dr. Woods’ bio, over the last few years, he had an opportunity to investigate several of the highest-performing high school systems in multiple countries. His work resulted in the creation of the first international boarding high school in Downtown Los Angeles. This high school hosted students from 17 different countries and resulted in over 80 university offers from some of the most selective universities and music conservatories in the United States.

Dr. Woods has been married to his wife Blanca, a native of La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, for 30 years, and they enjoy the love and support of their four adult children, according to a press release issued by TVUSD. 

Jessica Ussher