News

Superintendent Marken abruptly resigns from Dublin Unified School District

Marks second year in a row board has faced a superintendent's surprise departure

Superintendent Dave Marken handed in his resignation to the Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday, a surprise announcement that sent shockwaves throughout the community overnight.

Dave Marken. (File photo)

It marks the second time in just over a year that the board and district have faced the abrupt departure of a superintendent; Marken's predecessor, Leslie Boozer, and the board mutually agreed to part ways in the middle of her contract in March 2019.

Marken, a former Dublin High School principal and Newark Unified School District superintendent, came out of retirement to serve as interim DUSD superintendent in April 2019 -- and two months later he agreed to stay on for two years, through the 2020-21 school year, to allow the district and board ample time to find their next permanent leader.

But something happened at the end of his first full year that led him to step down, according to the resignation letter he released to the community on Tuesday.

"Leading a school district isn't for the faint of heart. I never expected smooth sailing. But I kept telling myself that I was asked to come here. Asked to upend my life. Asked to come back and bring my knowledge, experience, expertise and passion for students back here to Dublin," Marken wrote in part.

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"So I came in with the best of intentions. Wanting to help. Wanting to lead. WHY? The WHY is the key question. The WHY is because of our students," he said. "Those intentions will not be met now. Those assurances that what I brought to Dublin is no longer desired."

"I am sorry that I wasn't able to finish everything I believed needed to be done. I want to apologize to our dedicated teachers, staff and administration. Most of all I want to apologize to the students and families in Dublin," Marken added. "I truly hope someone else can somehow, some way, get it done. But that person will not be me. I wish you the very best."

After Tuesday's board meeting, the district released an official statement expressing "deep sadness" over the resignation while thanking Marken for his service.

"His second tenure in Dublin is one that has ended far too soon and he will be remembered for all the good he has done in Dublin," the district statement read, in part.

"There was a point in the recent past where the district found itself on the brink," the district said. "It seemed unlikely that anyone could turn the ship around and create a sense of hope, but Dr. Marken did just that."

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"Staff now, while the district faces the herculean task of starting school for the 2020-21 school year, at a time when strong, confident, competent leadership is needed, our ship is again adrift," they added.

Neither side specified reasons that led to Marken's departure.

The move came two weeks after a lengthy board meeting in which one board majority supported moving forward with a "choice model" plan for reopening DUSD schools next academic year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as Marken recommended. But another board majority that night, going against Marken's recommendation, voted down the proposed tentative agreement between DUSD and the Dublin Teachers Association.

Marken and his negotiating team were confident in the proposed union deal, including that the district could fulfill the financial obligations of the deal, but the board majority disagreed, wanting a more conservative fiscal approach without any compensation increases amid the budget uncertainty with state funding because of the COVID-19 economic downturn.

The rejection vote -- with trustees Dan Cherrier, Gabi Blackman and Catherine Kuo in the majority -- leaves the district and DTA without an agreement.

"As the leader of the teachers, of the certificated staff, I am devastated. We are angry, we are frustrated and we were committed to Dr. Marken," DTA President Roberta Kreitz told the Weekly on Tuesday night. "We had a superintendent who wanted to lead us, to guide us, to take us out of the dark shadows that we were in for so long."

Kreitz said that she doesn't think the DTA contract rejection was specifically the impetus for Marken's resignation, but more so it was the result of the direction that board trio seems to be taking the district with votes throughout the year. "It's solely on the shoulders of three of our board members," she added.

Asked where DUSD goes from here, Kreitz said, "I don't know. I really don't."

Marken's departure sees the district return to a position of instability at the top.

That was certainly the theme when he returned to DUSD in the spring of 2019.

Boozer had walked away as superintendent -- a mutual parting agreed to by the board -- for unspecified reasons that March in the midst of particularly tense contract negotiations with the DTA, to the point some union members cheered from the audience when the trustees announced Boozer's exit.

The board was also down to only three trustees for the five-member board after two midterm resignations at that time. (Blackman, for Trustee Area 4, and Kuo for Area 3 were later elected in separate special ballots, during Marken's tenure.)

Then in stepped Marken, who had retired as Newark superintendent in 2016 and was formerly an assistant superintendent and principal in Dublin.

First he agreed to be an interim superintendent, starting in April 2019 as part-time for pension reasons, but by that June he'd signed on to serve through the 2020-21 school year to lead the district while allowing the board ample time to recruit for a permanent successor.

During Marken's 14 months as superintendent, the district saw voters renew the $96 annual parcel tax under Measure E in May 2019 and pass another school facilities bond, the $290 million Measure J, this past March in the primary election held days before the pandemic hit California.

Now with Marken exiting, a district once known for its leadership stability finds itself without a superintendent for the second year in a row.

Boozer, who was hired ahead of the 2016-17 school year, was just the third superintendent in the previous 20 years. And Marken was only the sixth full-time superintendent ever since Dublin school districts unified in 1988.

"I love the people of this community, and the staff who give tirelessly in our schools and to our students," Marken said in his resignation message. "That love, that focus, on our children has to be at the core of anyone working in public education."

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Superintendent Marken abruptly resigns from Dublin Unified School District

Marks second year in a row board has faced a superintendent's surprise departure

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Jun 23, 2020, 7:32 pm
Updated: Tue, Jun 23, 2020, 11:41 pm

Superintendent Dave Marken handed in his resignation to the Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday, a surprise announcement that sent shockwaves throughout the community overnight.

It marks the second time in just over a year that the board and district have faced the abrupt departure of a superintendent; Marken's predecessor, Leslie Boozer, and the board mutually agreed to part ways in the middle of her contract in March 2019.

Marken, a former Dublin High School principal and Newark Unified School District superintendent, came out of retirement to serve as interim DUSD superintendent in April 2019 -- and two months later he agreed to stay on for two years, through the 2020-21 school year, to allow the district and board ample time to find their next permanent leader.

But something happened at the end of his first full year that led him to step down, according to the resignation letter he released to the community on Tuesday.

"Leading a school district isn't for the faint of heart. I never expected smooth sailing. But I kept telling myself that I was asked to come here. Asked to upend my life. Asked to come back and bring my knowledge, experience, expertise and passion for students back here to Dublin," Marken wrote in part.

"So I came in with the best of intentions. Wanting to help. Wanting to lead. WHY? The WHY is the key question. The WHY is because of our students," he said. "Those intentions will not be met now. Those assurances that what I brought to Dublin is no longer desired."

"I am sorry that I wasn't able to finish everything I believed needed to be done. I want to apologize to our dedicated teachers, staff and administration. Most of all I want to apologize to the students and families in Dublin," Marken added. "I truly hope someone else can somehow, some way, get it done. But that person will not be me. I wish you the very best."

After Tuesday's board meeting, the district released an official statement expressing "deep sadness" over the resignation while thanking Marken for his service.

"His second tenure in Dublin is one that has ended far too soon and he will be remembered for all the good he has done in Dublin," the district statement read, in part.

"There was a point in the recent past where the district found itself on the brink," the district said. "It seemed unlikely that anyone could turn the ship around and create a sense of hope, but Dr. Marken did just that."

"Staff now, while the district faces the herculean task of starting school for the 2020-21 school year, at a time when strong, confident, competent leadership is needed, our ship is again adrift," they added.

Neither side specified reasons that led to Marken's departure.

The move came two weeks after a lengthy board meeting in which one board majority supported moving forward with a "choice model" plan for reopening DUSD schools next academic year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as Marken recommended. But another board majority that night, going against Marken's recommendation, voted down the proposed tentative agreement between DUSD and the Dublin Teachers Association.

Marken and his negotiating team were confident in the proposed union deal, including that the district could fulfill the financial obligations of the deal, but the board majority disagreed, wanting a more conservative fiscal approach without any compensation increases amid the budget uncertainty with state funding because of the COVID-19 economic downturn.

The rejection vote -- with trustees Dan Cherrier, Gabi Blackman and Catherine Kuo in the majority -- leaves the district and DTA without an agreement.

"As the leader of the teachers, of the certificated staff, I am devastated. We are angry, we are frustrated and we were committed to Dr. Marken," DTA President Roberta Kreitz told the Weekly on Tuesday night. "We had a superintendent who wanted to lead us, to guide us, to take us out of the dark shadows that we were in for so long."

Kreitz said that she doesn't think the DTA contract rejection was specifically the impetus for Marken's resignation, but more so it was the result of the direction that board trio seems to be taking the district with votes throughout the year. "It's solely on the shoulders of three of our board members," she added.

Asked where DUSD goes from here, Kreitz said, "I don't know. I really don't."

Marken's departure sees the district return to a position of instability at the top.

That was certainly the theme when he returned to DUSD in the spring of 2019.

Boozer had walked away as superintendent -- a mutual parting agreed to by the board -- for unspecified reasons that March in the midst of particularly tense contract negotiations with the DTA, to the point some union members cheered from the audience when the trustees announced Boozer's exit.

The board was also down to only three trustees for the five-member board after two midterm resignations at that time. (Blackman, for Trustee Area 4, and Kuo for Area 3 were later elected in separate special ballots, during Marken's tenure.)

Then in stepped Marken, who had retired as Newark superintendent in 2016 and was formerly an assistant superintendent and principal in Dublin.

First he agreed to be an interim superintendent, starting in April 2019 as part-time for pension reasons, but by that June he'd signed on to serve through the 2020-21 school year to lead the district while allowing the board ample time to recruit for a permanent successor.

During Marken's 14 months as superintendent, the district saw voters renew the $96 annual parcel tax under Measure E in May 2019 and pass another school facilities bond, the $290 million Measure J, this past March in the primary election held days before the pandemic hit California.

Now with Marken exiting, a district once known for its leadership stability finds itself without a superintendent for the second year in a row.

Boozer, who was hired ahead of the 2016-17 school year, was just the third superintendent in the previous 20 years. And Marken was only the sixth full-time superintendent ever since Dublin school districts unified in 1988.

"I love the people of this community, and the staff who give tirelessly in our schools and to our students," Marken said in his resignation message. "That love, that focus, on our children has to be at the core of anyone working in public education."

Comments

Allan Groves
Dublin
on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:28 pm
Allan Groves, Dublin
on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:28 pm
5 people like this

So much has happened in this district over the past 4 years. Good and bad. Who is affected? The students. The Supt. is leaving while the board votes down a tentative teacher contract, and there is no one running the bond program. Neither of these have anything to do with COVID-19. These are the two biggest items I can think of that can/will have a disastrous affect on the staff and students. I hope you guys get it together. Now.


Carl
Stoneridge
on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:37 pm
Carl, Stoneridge
on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:37 pm
3 people like this

A "surprise departure" of a second superintendent within 14 months?? Doesn't speak well for those in charge over their. Maybe the board needs to take a look in the mirror for the real problem.


comment
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 9:06 pm
comment, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 9:06 pm
5 people like this

Marken said....

“If you find yourself in a situation where your bosses don’t trust you, and you don’t trust your bosses, then you should no longer work for your bosses anymore.....”


Dublinite
Dublin
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:17 pm
Dublinite, Dublin
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:17 pm
2 people like this

Time to try to go to Pleasanton. It's closer than Dublin High School.


Concerned Citizen
Bridle Creek
on Jun 23, 2020 at 11:21 pm
Concerned Citizen , Bridle Creek
on Jun 23, 2020 at 11:21 pm
3 people like this

It’s a sad situation all around. The students deserve better. The hard working teachers deserve better. This is all on the selfish act of the school board. Thank you Mr. Walsh for keeping us informed on this situation.


Surprise
Dublin
on Jun 24, 2020 at 6:29 am
Surprise, Dublin
on Jun 24, 2020 at 6:29 am
17 people like this

two things Marken did really surprised me: 1) change the second high school to a interim middle school, to account for over capacity. With strong opposition from Dublin residents, this plan was rejected by the school board. 2) sent a letter to city council asking for approval of AtDublin housing projects, once again, with strong opposition from Dublin Residents, city council rejected.

Many people criticize the three board memebers (Dan, Catherine, Gabi) for his resignation, But I think the three board members have done a great wrok, putting interests of students and parents at priority. It is the other board members (Megan, and Amy) and their associates (like DTA) who lost the majority and have been trying to sabortage the great work by the three trustees voted in by Dublin Residents.


Diskman
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2020 at 1:18 pm
Diskman, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2020 at 1:18 pm
4 people like this

The nightmare continues, and will continue until the people of Dublin start electing better people to the Dublin school board. The board hired two VERY POOR Superintendents from Southern California. Down to three board members, with no Superintendent, , they were fortunate enough to have Dr. Marken (who they previously passed over for the Superintendent position) return to DUSD and start righting the ship. Then they run him off. I don't think they know what deep dodo they are in, facing the coronavirus situation and the resulting logistics and financial calamity, taking actions to deeply tick off the teachers, and once again being rudderless. A number of the older teachers will look at this situation and decide this is a great time to retire, which will further compound the their problems.


Parent
Dublin
on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:00 pm
Parent, Dublin
on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:00 pm
11 people like this

If anyone is to be blamed for DUSD current situation, it should be Amy Miller. She was the President of DUSD and handpicked both of the last two disastrous superintendents. I am confident that the new Board will pick a superintendent that will put the student’s interest first even if it means others (such as DTA or staff) must suffer during this tough economic time.


Dubliner
Rosewood
on Jun 24, 2020 at 11:58 pm
Dubliner, Rosewood
on Jun 24, 2020 at 11:58 pm
12 people like this

The DTA is a sham. I can’t think of a single type of worker or industry that is cashing in on raises and an annual 4% increase during COVID. In fact I’m losing 32k in income at a minimum this year due to COVID. These teachers could care less about the students. They’re just after their pay raises. I’d be happy to give it to them, and some, if they’re willing to “compete” with other teachers, but we all know the teachers unions are abjectly opposed to any sort of measuring stick on their performance. Enough said. Good riddance Marken. You’re a good person but your support for pay jokes and putting Dublin in a bind during this uncertainty without even questioning the numbers involved is beyond irresponsible. And your support for more homes pretty much sealed the deal for me.


Mousey
Apperson Ridge
on Jun 25, 2020 at 12:01 am
Mousey, Apperson Ridge
on Jun 25, 2020 at 12:01 am
14 people like this

Thanks Gavin and Cherrier for your constant eye on the financials. This place has become a gravy train for tax and spend without results proponents. Enough is enough. Let’s get some level-headed thinking on this and don’t let the DTA bully us into jacking up our property taxes year over year to support raises when the rest of us are losing money during COVID.


Dubliner
Amador Estates
on Jun 25, 2020 at 7:59 am
Dubliner, Amador Estates
on Jun 25, 2020 at 7:59 am
8 people like this

Dr. Marken is a fantastic human being and leader. For the past several years there’s been a high turnover rate in the district which is a symptom of a broken district rooted at the very top. When Dr. Marken has Been sought out to step out of retirement to help mend a broken district with his years of expertise and leadership skills and then continuously gets pushback from the board that hired him it just shows that his bosses have their own agenda and have completely disregarded his expertise. Although I’m deeply saddened to lose him, I have to commend him for standing firm in his beliefs and not conforming.


Frustrated Parent
Dublin
on Jun 25, 2020 at 11:42 am
Frustrated Parent, Dublin
on Jun 25, 2020 at 11:42 am
10 people like this

Leaders don’t give up when leading gets difficult. During these challenging times, the expectation from the Superintendent is how effectively he can get the school district back to business for the next school year. But looks like he was more focused on being "well liked" by agreeing to whatever teachers, developers and his old time colleagues/friends at Dublin administration wanted.

I appreciate and respect the regular communication Dr. Marken shared during these troubled times. Those were very helpful, and in a way increased his likability factor from those parents who don't follow the school district work closely. But then when you get into the details of his actual work as superintendent, and attitude at school district meetings you can get to see his real biased persona.

Role and responsibilities of the highly paid superintendent job is to work on tasks & with people that they may not agree as person but what voters wanted and elected. And this is the second time (first Newark, and now Dublin) he just quit when he does not get his way. He should stay retired from school administration for the benefit of others.

This departure may get tough for the Dublin School District for short term but in a way good that new board trusties can get someone they believe who can deliver to what their vision and road map that will benefit.


Common Sense
Dublin
on Jun 26, 2020 at 8:04 am
Common Sense, Dublin
on Jun 26, 2020 at 8:04 am
12 people like this

I totally agree with Frustrated Parent and Dubliner. Good leader don't quit when the going gets tough. Think of DUSD is a cruise ship and Marken is the captain. Well, he just bailed and left the passengers stranded!

I have many friends and neighbors who have experienced 10% - 20% pay cut due to COVID-19. For the teachers to demand almost 4% raise at time like this is beyond believe. Especially given many of them have been on COVID-19 vacation since March.

If the teachers do really about the students and putting students' interest first, why not put the energy and effort into helping a smooth transition for the coming school season instead of bickering about a raise when millions are having salary cut. If you want my support and respect, proof to me that you do care about the students!


Bob Ray
Pleasanton Village
on Jun 29, 2020 at 1:21 pm
Bob Ray, Pleasanton Village
on Jun 29, 2020 at 1:21 pm
Like this comment

In any position there is going to be disagreements. Every person involved in this group has to balance the job they were hired to do versus the job they are getting done. When other people will not allow the job you were hired to do, getting done, it is the right decision to leave which he did. Not an easy decision but, especially with the entrenched dynamics in this group, the right decision


Dublin Resident In the Know
Dublin
on Jul 2, 2020 at 6:46 pm
Dublin Resident In the Know, Dublin
on Jul 2, 2020 at 6:46 pm
6 people like this

Amy Miller handpicked both of the superintendents who quit. She had been warned and didn't care. Marken did the same thing in Newark. He quit when the work got tough. Sorry, but they earned $350k and Boozer walked away with it too! Miller and Rouse were in favor of a second high school in a 13-acre business complex next to the jail! The 3 newest board members are fiscally responsible and take the needs of the entire district into consideration. Cherrier, Blackman, and Kuo will surely bring great things to DUSD, as we can thank them and dedicated community members for the future high school on the property near Grafton. As far as DTA, they lost a lot of respect these past few weeks. Some teachers should be reprimanded for their online behavior as well as for driving by the homes of board members while shouting and beeping.


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