Misty Her selected as Fresno Unified’s interim Superintendent. National search on the horizon.

With the selection, California’s third-largest school district will be led by a woman for the first time in its history.

After weeks of controversy over its recruitment for its chief executive, Fresno Unified School District will have a fresh face taking the helm from Superintendent Bob Nelson: deputy Superintendent Misty Her.

But Nelson, who announced his exit in January for Fresno State, isn’t really leaving, the district’s Board of Trustees announced with the hiring of Her as Interim Superintendent.


Driving the news: Fresno Unified trustees voted 7-0 on Friday to name Her as its interim Superintendent, following an unusual, closed-door meeting on Wednesday to opt on hiring an interim Superintendent rather than pursuing the search and selection of a permanent replacement to Nelson.

  • With the move, Her becomes the first female Superintendent in Fresno Unified’s history and is among the highest-ranking Hmong Americans in U.S. secondary education.
  • Fresno Unified’s trustees faced serious blowback after pursuing an internal search process to replace Nelson on a permanent basis, with local elected officials, business leaders, and the district’s own teachers clamoring for a statewide or national search for a long-term option.
  • Nelson reached an agreement to stick around Fresno Unified in an advisory capacity with a new, unspecified title. He is expected to start a new post with Fresno State on July 31.

What’s next: Trustees will vote to rafity Her’s contract at its next meeting on Wednesday. It will also launch a national search to evaluate candidates – undoubtedly including Her – for the long-term position.

What they’re saying: “Until that national search is completed, we need a superintendent who will continue to implement initiatives that district is pursuing,” said Fresno Unified Board President Susan Wittrup, “and who will ensure that we are full prepared for the first day of school in the fall.”

  • “Misty’s lived experience allows her to relate to our disadvantaged students in a way that no other superintendent can. It is these qualities that I think pulls her to be very successful in our district, and I want to end by saying that even though this is not the permanent selection of our superintendent, everybody should be very excited about what her appointment to this position means,” Trustee Veva Islas told GV Wire.
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