Mon09012014

Schools

No nepotism cited in hiring of MV-LA business superintendent

Residents continue to register surprise upon learning that Robyn Phillips, the new assistant superintendent of business services at the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, is the wife of former superintendent Don Phillips.

Phillips, who did not mention that she was Don's wife for a recent Town Crier article, said she would have disclosed the information had she been asked.

"Basically, I have earned my own professional qualifications and reputation. This is a good place and a good opportunity," she said about working in the district.

Board president Judy Hannemann said Phillips' relationship to Don did not play a part in the board's decision to hire her.

"If anything, it caused us to look at her twice as hard," Hannemann said. "We knew (hiring Phillips) would open us up to questions."

Hannemann said the board knew Phillips was interested in the position, but opened up the search and advertised for more candidates.

The board was looking for someone who had experience in working in school finance, managing, accounting, planning and construction operations, as well as someone who could communicate well, she said.

Hannemann said Phillips "had all of those qualifications."

Superintendent Rich Fischer said the district conducted a full-nationwide search for the position, which included advertising in the educational trade magazine, EdCal. He said of the 25 applicants who applied for the position, the top five were screened by two interview teams.

He said a nine-member committee of parents, teachers and administrators interviewed the candidates about their leadership skills. A second committee interviewed the candidates about their technical abilities and their knowledge of things such as budget issues, basic aid districts and construction and bonding.

"It was a fairly long process," Fischer said. "She was the best candidate."

Phillips comes from the Cupertino Union School District where she has served as assistant superintendent of fiscal services for the past 5 1/2 years. She holds a doctorate from Harvard University and has 10 years of experience in education. Phillips has taught finance economics and public policy at Santa Clara University and the University of California, San Diego.

Phillips is filling a vacancy left by Bob Golton, who resigned Oct. 1 to serve as business manager for the Palo Alto Unified School District. He joins Don Phillips, who left earlier this year for the top post in the district.

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