Matt Duffy, an administrator at the Milpitas Unified School District who is described as having a proven track record in improving public schools and education systems, has been named the sole finalist for the position of West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) superintendent, the district announced Thursday.
The board is scheduled to vote on whether to hire Duffy at its Wednesday, June 15 meeting.
Duffy, who was selected among a pool of 22 applicants and seven interviewed candidates, would succeed Dr. Bruce Harter, who is retiring June 30 following a decade as superintendent.
Duffy has served as the assistant superintendent for educational services in Milpitas for three years, where he has managed instructional programs for more than 10,000 students, among other duties, according to WCCUSD. He also assists in overseeing enrollment, technology, special education and Local Control Accountability Plan development in his role, the district said.
Duffy launched a new dual language immersion school for the Milpitas school district and is credited with significantly increasing professional learning opportunities for staff and expanding the music program.
WCCUSD Board President Randy Enos said Duffy has a track record of improving schools as a teacher, principal and administrator.
“He has experience serving students who are like ours…I look forward to working with him for the success of our students and community,” Enos said in a statement.
Prior to Milpitas, Duffy was senior executive director for New Leaders for New Schools, a national nonprofit that develops and trains school administrators. He was also an administrator in the Oakland Unified School District for nine years, starting as principal at Elmhurst Middle School in 2003. Three years later, he became the founding principal of Elmhurst Community Prep Middle School, an East Oakland middle school. He was promoted to regional superintendent in 2009, supervising 15 middle and high schools.
During Duffy’s tenure at Elmhurst Middle School, the school experienced a double-digit growth in math and reading proficiency and a 100-percent reduction in suspensions and incidents of violence, according to the district.
“Teacher retention improved by 50 percent under Duffy’s leadership,” the district said.
He had similar success at Elmhurst Community Prep, which had the highest Academic Performance Index for black students in the Oakland Unified School District, strong annual gains on the California Standards Test and a 95-percent increase in parent participation, according to the district.
“If you create great teams and great cultures for students, staff and families, anything is possible and that’s what I’ve tried to do throughout my career,” Duffy said. “I’m not entering the District with a turnaround lens although there are important issues that require prompt attention. It’s essential for me to get to know the people, programs and structures so that we can work together to achieve the district’s goals and make sure each child in our district receives a high quality education.”
Duffy was born and raised in New York City, where he was a middle school teacher in the South Bronx. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Wesleyan University, a Master of Arts as a teacher of social studies from Lehman College and a second master’s in administration, policy and planning from Harvard.
He is also a proficient Spanish speaker and lives in Oakland with his wife, Tamara, and two sons, Caelin and Leo, who are 7 and 5.
Information and photo for this report provided by the West Contra Costa Unified School District and edited by the Richmond Standard.