Scottsdale Schools name temporary chief; begin search for superintendent

A view of the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board. (File photo)

A view of the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board. (File photo)

The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board has appointed Dr. Pam Sitton as temporary superintendent as five candidates for an interim position are expected to be vetted later this week.

Pam Sitton

Pam Sitton

In a special study session Monday, Jan. 4 the Governing Board voted unanimously to enlist the service of the Arizona School Boards Association in its search for an interim superintendent while appointing Dr. Sitton to her temporary post.

Dr. Sitton, who has served most recently as the district’s director of elementary education and as assistant superintendent of human resources, will serve in her role until Sunday, Jan. 31 or until an interim superintendent is announced, school officials say.

“There are five candidates identified, only to the board, to interview,” said Scottsdale Schools spokeswoman Kristine Harrington in a Jan. 5 written response to e-mailed questions. “ASBA will reach out to set up those interviews. It depends how those interviews go whether or not an interim is selected from that pool or what the board does next.”

According to Ms. Harrington, those interviews could start Thursday, Jan. 7 behind closed doors in executive session.

In Arizona, municipalities are given a provision within state statutes to discuss certain items away from the limelight of the public arena. The closed-door meetings are known as executive sessions.

An executive session is a gathering of a quorum of members of a public body from which the public body is excluded for one or more of the reasons set forth under ARS section 38-431.03, state law stipulates.

“During this transition time, staff, parents and community members can reach the superintendent’s office through the email: I look forward to working with all stakeholder groups to make the transition as smooth as possible,” Dr. Sitton said in a Jan. 5 letter to district parents.

“The Governing Board recognizes that choosing a new leader for our district will be a significant task and intends to involve stakeholders in the process. Additionally, the Governing Board intends to keep stakeholder groups informed as the process evolves.”

This evolving process comes on the heels of former Superintendent Dr. David Peterson’s abrupt resignation effective Monday Jan. 4. An action he claims after nearly two years of bullying, intimidation, harassment and even extortion by two members of the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board.

In a document coined a “Chronology of Events,” Dr. Peterson, takes specific aim at the actions of two Governing Board members: Pam Kirby and Barbara Perleberg. Superintendent Peterson abruptly announced his resignation Friday, Dec. 11, after only about one year into a three-year contract renewal.

In the report, Dr. Peterson claims that over the last 24 months Ms. Kirby and Ms. Perleberg cultivated a bullying culture that included “intimidation and extortion,” which ultimately forced him to resign — and even contemplate legal action against the district.

Both board members deny the allegations, but do acknowledge there existed a poor relationship between superintendent and Governing Board. Both members claim they always acted in the best interest of the district.

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at

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