San Lorenzo Valley High School.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
K-12 Education

Misconduct probe still ongoing, SLV school district taps new superintendent from within its own ranks

San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District selected Chris Schiermeyer, the district’s deputy superintendent of business services, as its incoming superintendent.

A new superintendent is taking the reins at San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District as the cloud of a misconduct probe into several staff members continues to hover overhead.

But the incoming district chief is no stranger to the turbulence of the past year. The SLVUSD board said it conducted a nationwide search and on Wednesday announced it had found its next district leader internally — Chris Schiermeyer, the district’s current deputy superintendent of business services.

Chris Schiermeyer, incoming superintendent at San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District.
(San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District)

A member of the district’s executive cabinet for a decade, Schiermeyer is also a district parent, with his son attending SLV High School and his daughter at SLV Middle School, according to the district.

He is one of four new incoming superintendents across Santa Cruz County, an unusually high rate of turnover after district leaders retired from SLVUSD along with the Live Oak, Mountain Elementary and Happy Valley Union school districts.

At SLVUSD, Superintendent Laurie Bruton held off retiring last year to avoid leaving the district to grapple with the pandemic under new leadership.

Now, California is on the verge of a wider reopening June 15 — Tuesday. And SLVUSD is among the 99% of public school districts statewide planning to offer full-time in-person instruction in the fall.

But the district has yet to emerge from beneath the shadow of a slew of misconduct allegations involving several teachers and staff that emerged on social media since late in March — many, though not all, shared anonymously.

Two teachers were placed on leave as the district probed allegations naming at least four staff members, hiring an outside investigator and coordinating with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office to determine whether any crimes might have been committed.

The probe is ongoing, with no clear end date in sight.

In May, the district opted to part ways with a senior administrator facing a lawsuit that accused him of abusing a student in another district years earlier. And a former SLV High computer science teacher is facing child molestation charges in an ongoing case.

Schiermeyer will now have the task of seeing the district’s probe to an end and making good on Bruton’s commitment in April to “track down the facts in all of these cases.”

Schiermeyer couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. But as Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools Faris Sabbah sees it, it’s a task he’s cut out for.

“Chris Schiermeyer brings a wealth of experience to the SLV Superintendency and a deep commitment to student success,” Sabbah told Lookout via text. “I am confident he will lead the investigation effectively and address these serious allegations.”

SLVUSD superintendent Laurie Bruton

Bruton, the outgoing superintendent, agreed, calling Schiermeyer a “committed, and caring leader” in an email to Lookout. “SLV is a wonderful community and Chris will move the district and organization forward,” Bruton added. “I look forward to the good things to come for the students, staff, and community under Chris’ leadership.”

SLVUSD’s board selected Schiermeyer for its top job out of a pool of 18 candidates. His first day is July 1.

“Chris brings with him an in-depth knowledge of our district, an understanding of our finances, and a comprehension of the management of our campuses,” SLVUSD Board President Gail Levine said in a statement.

Schiermeyer attended UC Riverside, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, a master’s in education and his administrative credential. During his 24-year career in education, he has worked in roles including teacher, principal, human resources director, secondary education director and chief business officer.

“As the first person in my family to attend college, providing educational opportunities, connecting to students, and educating students on the power they have within themselves to achieve their individual goals, is always at the front of decision-making,” Schiermeyer said in a prepared release.