Tempe Union gets new superintendent

The Tempe Union High School District governing board voted 3-2 to appoint Kevin J. Mendivil, the associate superintendent, as its next superintendent, effective July 1.

Both Mendivil and Assistant Superintendent Anna Battle were in seeking to succeed Superintendent Kenneth Baca, who two months ago said he would resign at the end of the current school year.

Board President DeeAnee McClenahan and freshman board member Berdetta Hodge supported Battle, though all five board members praised the qualifications of both candidates.

Mendivil and Battle themselves were not present at the meeting.

Four of the five people who voiced their opinions before the vote expressed support for Mendivil.

“As a teacher, I believe he [Mendivil] is a strong advocate for all of us teachers out there in the district,” said David DuPlessis, a teacher at Corona Del Sol High School.

“Most importantly, I’ve never seen Dr.Mendivil act in a manner that would be unprofessional,” DuPlessis said. “And it really does appear that he has a strict, professional code and I think that would serve our district well to the public.”

Citing Battles 32 years with the district that began as a teacher, McClenahan  said, “I felt that Dr.Battle is an excellent representative of our district to the public.”

 “I’m not saying that Dr. Mendivil doesn’t do all of those things,” McClenahan said, “but the scales were just tipped ever so slightly in that direction and that’s who I’ll be voting.”

Though Michelle Helm, Sandy Lowe and Brandon Schmoll all voted for Mendivil, they praised Battles’ qualifications.

But for Lowe, it boiled down to which of the two candidates had more experience. Mendivil has 11 years of experience in district-level jobs at Tempe Union as well as the Gilbert and Mesa school districts while Battle has only three years in a district-level job, Lowe noted. She also said the fact that Mendivil worked in other districts was important.

Hodge took the opposite tack, saying Battle’s long association with Tempe Union demonstrated her commitment to the district.

Schmoll said it was a tough choice.

 “As everyone had been saying, these are both really great, awesome candidates,” Schmoll said. “Up until tonight, I wasn’t sure I was going to vote the way I was going to vote.”

The board made its decision after looking at updated resumes, three letters of recommendation, essays on two subjects, a behind-closed-doors interview and a report by a former district solicitor who interviewed 18 community leaders and district staffers.

Mendivil joined TUHSD as the assistant superintendent of human resources in 2011, and obtained the position of associate superintendent of the same department three years later.

 He was oversees human resources, benefits and community relations, and is responsible for employee recruitment, mediation, and evaluating performance. 

McLenahan also addressed the fact that the board did not conduct a town hall to get community input on Baca’s successor.

“I’ve heard from a lot of people. We all got phone calls. We all talked to people at the grocery store. We all got emails,” she said. “We have heard you and appreciate your feedback.”

Baca gave no reason for his decision to resign, except to say in a letter that it was time for him to leave. He has been the district superintendent for six years.

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