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Hayward superintendent picked to lead SF public schools

Dr. Matt Wayne speaks to the media after being introduced as the new Superintendent of Schools for the San Francisco Unified School District, in the Breyer Board Meeting Room at district headquarters in San Francisco, California on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Wayne previously served as Superintendent for the Hayward Unified School District. | Don Feria

Hayward’s superintendent of schools has been named to lead San Francisco Unified School District, officials said Thursday.

The Board of Education selected Matt Wayne as the sole finalist for SFUSD superintendent to begin in July. 

Wayne will have discretion to fill a number of administrative vacancies taking effect at the end of the school year. Commissioners will confirm Wayne’s appointment at a later meeting.

“I am humbled and excited to become the next superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District,” Wayne said in an official statement. “I look forward to serving the students, families, and staff in such a vibrant district committed to educational equity and academic excellence. We face significant challenges, but I know the San Francisco community is ready to work together to do right by our students.”

Wayne, who is fluent in Spanish, started his educational career as an English teacher in 1997 in New York, according to an official SFUSD release. He holds an undergraduate degree in rhetoric and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from UC Berkeley. He holds two masters degrees—an masters of arts in English education and a masters of education in public school administration from Teachers College, Columbia University.

He’s served Hayward Unified School District since 2012 and as its superintendent since 2017, according to his Linkedin. He will return to SFUSD, having been its executive director of instructional support from 2010 to 2012.

Wayne will replace Superintendent Vincent Matthews, a San Francisco native who began serving in 2017, starting in July. Matthews postponed his retirement a year ago under new conditions for the board to strictly focus on reopening schools. 

“Given his strong leadership experience, his knowledge of SFUSD and California, and his collaborative leadership style, Dr. Wayne comes to us ready to lead SFUSD during these times of incredible challenges and opportunities,” said Board President Jenny Lam in a statement. “The board looks forward with great excitement to working with Dr. Wayne as we build upon past successes and move forward with a new era for SFUSD.”

Dr. Matt Wayne is introduced as the new Superintendent of Schools for the San Francisco Unified School District on Thursday, May 12, 2022. | Don Feria

The new superintendent has a myriad critical issues to dive into: a structural deficit overseen by state officials, declining enrollment, low morale among educators looking to leave, an ongoing payroll debacle and the oft-criticized system failures of central office operations under audit. A school board in reset mode after the February recall of three members will continue to oversee SFUSD under new leadership. 

Wayne will also be short two top administrators: Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Enikia Ford-Morthel is poised to lead Berkeley schools while Deputy Superintendent of Policy and Operations Myong Leigh announced last month he would resign.

Wayne named his top priorities as healing after a tiring period for folks in education and creating systems that let the best teaching happen in the classrooms.

Michael Essien, principal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Academic Middle School and United Administrators of San Francisco president, said he had “high hopes” and faith in the board to pick the right person. United Educators of San Francisco President Cassondra Curiel, likewise, said there’s trust in the board to vet candidates.

“That person is going to have a large task before them,” said Essien, who interviewed for the job. “The organization of SFUSD is wounded right now and that person is going to have to be able to heal that.”