HAYWARD -- Hayward school trustees early Thursday took the final step to hire Stanley Dobbs as interim superintendent, after a discussion prolonged by one trustee's repeated questioning of the candidate's qualifications.
Dobbs, 47, returns to the district after leaving at the end of November to accept a job as chief financial officer for the San Diego Unified school district. A 26-year Navy veteran, he previously was Hayward's assistant superintendent for business services, completing 1½ years of a two-year contract.
Current Superintendent Donald Evans is leaving the Hayward district at the end of the month to take over as Berkeley superintendent.
Dobbs' contract calls for a $229,500 annual salary and $7,500 to cover relocation expenses. At Thursday's meeting, trustee Luis Reynoso questioned why Dobbs was being paid the same as Evans, saying Dobbs does not have the same qualifications as the outgoing superintendent, who has a doctorate in education and an administrative credential. Board President William McGee also expressed reservations.
"I'm not happy about the salary, but I can acquiesce," McGee said.
Trustees hired Dobbs as interim superintendent June 8 on a 4-1 vote, with Reynoso voting no. Dobbs was one of five candidates interviewed for the job.
Despite ultimately voting in favor of the contract on Thursday, Reynoso said over and over that the district should not be hiring someone who does not have a school administrative credential.
"We need qualified people who know about education," he said.
Rotary President Brian Schott, who served two terms on Hayward's Measure I bond oversight committee, reminded the board that in the past, the school district has hired superintendents with doctorates but still has fallen to last place in the county in test scores.
"You have had a community willing to pass bond measures and parcel taxes to support our district," he said. "Take the high road as you finalize your decision."
McGee said that under the state Education Code, a superintendent does not have to have a credential, and Evans agreed that a board can waive that requirement. McGee pointed out that other districts in California, including Oakland, have had superintendents without one. A credential is needed to evaluate teachers, but that's not the role of the superintendent, he said.
"We have school site personnel to do that," he said. "We're not out of line with what we're doing. This was the most qualified candidate."
Reynoso further questioned whether Dobbs would need a credential to evaluate assistant superintendents. Wayne Miller, assistant superintendent for human resources, said he would have to check with the district's legal counsel. Miller confirmed later Thursday that yes, Dobbs would legally be able to evaluate all of the district's top administrators.
The interim superintendent's contract was one of the last items on the board's agenda, and a vote was not taken until after midnight. As the night wore on, the council chambers began to empty, but former city Councilman Olden Henson remained to speak on behalf of Dobbs' performance while he worked with the Hayward district.
"When he said he was going to do something, he did it," Henson said, crediting Dobbs with improving collaboration between the district and city.
"Cmdr. Dobbs has the support of this community," said Henson, referring to Dobbs' rank when he retired from the Navy. "He has the support of the business community. Let's get this district rolling."
Dobbs was not at Wednesday's meeting but said in a prepared statement that he would be ready to begin work July 1.
"I want to thank the governing board for responding positively to the voice of the community. ... Through the execution of the board's vision, it is my goal to ensure that all children in Hayward are ready for the workforce challenges of the 21st century," Dobbs said.