Berkeley school district announces Brent Stephens as superintendent finalist

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Brent Stephens is set to become the next superintendent of the Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, pending approval from the BUSD board May 8.

Stephens is the current Chief Academic Officer of the San Francisco Unified School District and has now been selected as a finalist for the top job in the Berkeley school system. According to a BUSD board press release announcing the potential appointment, final contract negotiations and site visits will still have to take place before Stephen’s appointment.

In January, current BUSD superintendent Donald Evans announced his retirement effective July 31. Since then, BUSD has made an effort to gather community input, hosting town halls and hiring the consulting firm Leadership Associates to gauge what hiring considerations the district should take.

“Based on the feedback received from our parents, staff, and community members, we were looking for a strong leader who is a collaborative, energetic, instructional expert who is deeply committed to equity,” said BUSD board vice-president Beatriz Leyva-Cutler in the press release. “After considering many excellent candidates, we were thrilled to select Dr. Stephens as the finalist for the job of leading our district.”

In his role as chief academic officer in San Francisco, Stephens was material in increasing the percentage of Black students taking fourth year math classes in high school and developed a Pathway to Teaching program for district employees to become credentialed teachers, according to the press release.

Stephens began his career in education as a Spanish bilingual teacher in Oakland and later became a principal for middle and K-8 schools in California and Massachusetts, before taking the administrative position in San Francisco. He also holds a doctorate from Harvard University’s Urban Superintendents Program.

“In Berkeley, I see a community committed to the full promise of desegregation, a fearless and public reflection on progress towards true equity, and strong, results-oriented community partnerships,” Stephens said in the press release. “I am a public educator to my core, and I look forward to working with Berkeley Unified students, staff, and community to provide every one of our students with the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive.”

Sophia Brown-Heidenreich is the city news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sophiabrownh.