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New superintendent appointed for San Juan Unified School District

By Sara Beth Williams–
The San Juan Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday named a new successor to replace outgoing superintendent Kent Kern.


Melissa Bassanelli, the district’s current deputy superintendent of schools and programs, was unanimously voted in to serve as the new Superintendent of Schools by the San Juan Unified Board of Education during a Sept. 27 board meeting. Bassanelli will assume the position on Jan. 1, 2023.

“Melissa demonstrated a deep and thoughtful understanding of the work that San Juan Unified is engaged in,” said Board of Education President Michael McKibbin in a news release. “Her inquiry-based style of leadership can help us evolve and reach new heights in how we provide services to students and families.”

Bassanelli has served in her deputy superintendent capacity since 2019, and played a key role in development, implantation and refinement of the district’s Local Control and Accountability, Expanded Learning Opportunities plan and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund plan. Prior to her current position, she served as the assistant superintendent of elementary and K-8 education, director of professional learning and curriculum innovation, director of extended learning and support programs, and as a vice principal and principal.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected as the next superintendent,” said Bassanelli.

As previously reported by The Sentinel, current SJUSD Superintendent Kent Kern announced his plans in August to retire at the end of the 2022-23 school year. He has committed to moving to a support role focused on the transition of the board from five to seven members this year, as well as supporting the onboarding of the new superintendent.

Kern has served as superintendent of the district since 2014. The position is the top executive position in the district, with the superintendent directly reporting to the district’s elected board members.

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