Capistrano Unified School District Trustees named Dr. Christopher Brown as the District’s new superintendent after an extensive selection process spanning five months. All seven Trustees approved his four-year contract, the maximum duration permitted by California Law.
CUSD Board President Krista Castellanos said Dr. Brown’s experience at all levels of unified school district leadership contributed to his selection. “He is an instructional and operational leader who was also recognized as an excellent teacher. He has been involved in everything from classroom instruction, to school construction, and school modernization,” she said.
Dr. Brown currently serves as Assistant Superintendent for Research, Assessment, and School Improvement in the Long Beach Unified School District, California’s fourth largest school district with 70,000 students.
Dr. Brown became the preferred candidate for the CUSD superintendency after submitting a lengthy application, participation in two structured interviews of over two hours, and an extended visit to his current workplace. He starts on July 1st.
“After deciding that Dr. Brown was our preferred candidate, Board members made a useful and enlightening verification visit to his district to learn more about him. After the visit I decided to re-read Dr. Brown’s original letters of recommendation and personal statement,” said Trustee Gila Jones. “I was very pleased to find a remarkable consistency throughout, including evidence of a very organized, collaborative, humble, reflective, and self-aware person with good political acumen, who accepts feedback, and—most important of all—is laser focused on evidence and student achievement. I am very optimistic for the CUSD community.”
Dr. Brown brings significant experience to the superintendency. He previously served as a high school director, principal, middle school assistant principal, coordinator, dean, athletic coach, and science teacher. His principalship was at the highly acclaimed California Academy of Math and Science, a multidistrict supported magnet high school on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills.
“We learned wonderful things about Dr. Brown’s leadership through our selection processes,” said Trustee Michael Parham. “He maintains professional and collaborative relationships with everyone in his school community.”
Dr. Brown’s peers also describe him as an excellent administrator and teacher. At the beginning of his career he served as a trainer for beginning teachers through California’s “Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program.”
Known for his character, empathy, and calm demeanor, Dr. Brown is highly regarded by Long Beach colleagues because of his record of success as a district and site leader. His coworkers also describe him as bold, and a “systems thinker who is not afraid to make tough decisions.” Many lauded his understanding of what it takes to lead a large, diverse TK-12 system.
Dr. Brown earned his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Irvine, before attaining his master’s degree at the California State University at Long Beach. His doctoral degree in educational leadership from the University of Southern California focused on preparation for superintendency.
“I am truly humbled to be selected as the new superintendent for the Capistrano Unified School District. I look forward to partnering with the Board to build on the long history of success enjoyed by CUSD,” Dr. Brown said. “I am eager to interact with our students and families in the fall, and with the teachers and staff members who support them.”
Trustees oversaw a superintendent selection process that included sessions with 320 stakeholders who participated in focus groups, individual interviews, or community forums to describe the ideal candidate for the CUSD job. A cross section of 2,164 District stakeholders also completed an online survey about the characteristics they envisioned in the next District leader.
The focus groups and survey results contributed to a leadership profile that guided the recruitment and selection process for CUSD’s next superintendent. The profile described specific characteristics stakeholders sought in a new leader. Clear themes emerged from those processes, which included the following:
- A superintendent with authentic interpersonal and communication skills who listens closely to constituents
- A superintendent who builds meaningful relationships with all stakeholders
- A superintendent who is highly visible and known in the schools and communities of the District
- A superintendent who has a caring, team-building approach who trusts coworkers and is open to alternative views
Dr. Brown was not seeking a superintendency until he learned about the CUSD opening. “I have not been actively pursuing a promotional opportunity to simply move into the position of superintendent,” he said. “The CUSD position is the only one I applied to because its stated leadership needs match my areas of strength.”