Monday, October 6, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Gil withdraws from Seattle superintendent search

Seattle Times staff reporter

Libia Socorro Gil, the former superintendent at Chula Vista Elementary School District in California, confirmed today that she has withdrawn her candidacy for superintendent of Seattle Public Schools.

In an e-mail on Friday night to Seattle School Board President Nancy Waldman, Gil wrote that the "increasing polarization of this process makes it difficult to accomplish a common vision for educational leadership." Waldman, who celebrated her daughter's birthday over the weekend, said she didn't know Gil had decided to withdraw until she opened the e-mail today.

Waldman said that the district's search consultant, Nancy Noeske, told her Friday that Gil was openly questioning whether she should continue as a candidate, but hadn't indicated she had made her decision yet.

Noeske said she spoke with Gil either on Thursday or Friday and said Gil did not withdraw then. Asked about what was said during their conversation, Noeske would not elaborate other than to say that "all the candidates have been publicly humiliated and harassed. They felt the media coverage was very unprofessional."

The Seattle School Board has scheduled a 7 p.m. meeting tomorrow to vote on the finalists. Prior to that, it will meet behind closed doors in executive session.

Of the four finalists it brought to town for interviews and public forums, only two remain in the running: Steven Adamowski, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, and Evelyn Castro, superintendent of the Leadership Academy of the New York City Department of Education.

Joan Kowal, the fourth finalist and superintendent in residence at Nova Southeastern University's school of education in North Miami Beach, Fla., withdrew from consideration Friday.

Gil, 56, has been chief academic officer at New American Schools in Alexandria, Va., since 2002. For nine years, she was superintendent at Chula Vista, where she was credited with giving schools more autonomy in making decisions, supporting the creation of charter schools and trimming the size of the central administration. The district won a vote of public confidence in 1998 when a $95 million school-renovation bond measure was approved by 76 percent.

Gil also worked in the Seattle School District from 1986 to 1993. She was assistant superintendent for curriculum and instructional support, and held other managerial positions.

Waldman said she wasn't surprised by Gil's withdrawal.

Last week a majority of the board's search advisory committee recommended the School Board not choose from the four finalists and postpone a decision. Then Seattle's mayor publicly asked the board to spend more time looking for a "superstar."

"There's been such a negative sentiment expressed about all four candidates," Waldman said. "It's tough to hang in there in the face of all the criticism they're receiving."

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company


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