Ousted School Superintendent Honored by Anaheim Officials

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On the same night that Anaheim school district officials revealed their new superintendent this week, City Council members and others were honoring the recently fired superintendent who was being replaced.

Elizabeth Novack, who was ousted at Anaheim Union High School District in December, received back-to-back praise from a wide range of officials at Tuesday’s Anaheim City Council meeting.

“When I became mayor, I campaigned on a platform of kindness. … You took that and ran with it and did all sorts of fantastic things” at the district, said Mayor Tom Tait.

“Thank you, muchas gracias, for everything you’ve done for Anaheim Union,” added state Sen. Lou Correa, D-Anaheim.

Correa and Tait presented her with written recognitions, as did representatives of U.S Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Anaheim; Assembly members Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, and Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton; and county supervisors’ Chairman Shawn Nelson.

It came less than an hour before school officials announced their new choice for superintendent, Mike Matsuda.

Anaheim Union board members fired Novack for still-unexplained reasons.

Looking back on her career at the district, Novack said her biggest impact was “feeling like I was able to be a part of changing the lives” of youth in the community.

Asked whether a lawsuit could be looming against the district, Novack replied with a “no comment.”

“I think it’s important for all of us to move on,” she added.

Novack noted that her contract was terminated without cause.

In the wake of Novack’s firing, questions have arisen about whether she notified school board members about an Advanced Placement or AP testing violation last June.

Anaheim High School was placed on “probation” by testing officials in September and given a warning that further violations would ban it from giving the exams.

Two board members have said they weren’t informed of the AP test problems, while a third said the board was informed but couldn’t remember when.

For her part, Novack said this week she did, in fact, keep board members appraised of the AP issues.

“I felt that we had a very clear path of communication,” she said. “They were kept well-informed.”

Among the praise for Novack was for her embracing of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills or P21, which calls for focusing on developing students’ creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, technology and communication skills.

Matsuda is also an avid proponent of P21.

In implementing P21, Tait said, the former superintendent has been “leading the way on developing career education for all rather than just preparing for tests.”

Tait also cited a “tremendous growth” in college readiness under Novack’s leadership.

Novack expressed gratitude for the praise this week.

“Truly I am humbled by this recognition,” she told attendees. “What a blessing in my life to have served.”

Please contact Nick Gerda directly at ngerda@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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