The Newark Unified School District officially has a superintendent in place to fill in until a permanent one is found.
On Thursday evening, the Newark Unified Board of Education voted 3-1-1 to approve an interim superintendent employment agreement with Michael Milliken, a former principal of Graham Elementary School, that is set to terminate on June 30 or when a new superintendent is hired. Milliken is expected to work at least three days per week on average and is set to be paid $1,095 for each workday, though the total amount he is paid cannot exceed $87,600. Board Member Bowen Zhang abstained from the vote, citing the fact that he is stepping down from the position, and Board Member Phuong Nguyen was opposed, pointing to the unceremonious dismissal of the previous superintendent.
“To you, Dr. Milliken, I voted against the approval of your agreement because I do not agree with the process that has gotten us here today,” Nguyen said. “And I also believe that we have a very capable assistant superintendent in Ms. (Nicole) Pierce, who should have been given the opportunity to be interim. With that said, I do look forward to working with you and building a relationship over these next couple of months.”
Newark Unified’s former Superintendent Mark Triplett was ousted at a meeting earlier this month on a 3-2 vote, with Zhang and Nguyen opposed. Board Member Aiden Hill cited corruption on the part of the superintendent, while Nguyen said those allegations were unfounded, as determined by the district’s attorney, and reflected a pattern of micromanagement.
Milliken told Nguyen and Zhang that he understood their positions and the fact that he’s coming into “difficult circumstances,” but that he takes the role seriously.
“My role here will be to provide stability,” Milliken said, “to support the good work that’s taking place, and to facilitate a comprehensive and thoughtful transition to the permanent superintendent when that hopefully happens later this spring.”