2021 YEAR IN REVIEW: Culver City schools hire new superintendent

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Wave Staff Report

CULVER CITY — The Culver City school board voted unanimously in August to hire Quoc Tran, a native of Vietnam, as the district’s new superintendent.

Tran, the former assistant superintendent of educational services at Franklin-McKinley School District in San José, replaced Leslie Lockhart, who announced her retirement in April, effective at the end of the school year.

“I am proud of the exhaustive, transparent and collaborative process that led us to the district’s new superintendent,” school board President Tashon McKeithan said in August. “We solicited and received input from the public and our school communities at every turn, and I know that this inclusive process has helped us hire the right person.

“Mr. Tran comes to us with a great deal of experience and a true commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. He will be a true asset to our district.”

Tran had previously served as associate superintendent of educational services at Soledad Unified and Alisal Union school districts, in Monterey County.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cal State Los Angeles and has taught fourth and fifth grade, bilingual (Vietnamese) mathematics and science at the high school levels in Los Angeles. Tran is bilingual and bi-literate in Vietnamese, and has earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Cal State L.A.

As an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University, he was a co-recipient of a U.S. Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad Scholarship, where he co-led a team of 12 future teachers on a six-week immersive study trip to Vietnam.

In addition to teaching and his engineering background, he has experience as a director in the areas of English learner services, equity programs, multi-tiered system of support, curriculum and instruction, research data analysis and assessments, state and federal projects, and public information and communications.

Tran grew up during the Vietnam War and arrived in the U.S. at the age of 17 after spending years in a refugee camp in Malaysia. He said he has committed to focus his life work to confront issues impacting diversity, inclusion and equity in the public education arena.

“The great poet Maya Angelou once said ‘in diversity there is beauty and there is strength,’” Tran said. “I am honored to bring my passion and commitment to achieve the beauty and strength of the diversity that we are, the inclusion that we practice, and the equity outcome that we create for all students.”

Lockhart had served the district for 23 years, including the last four as superintendent.

Lockhart was named superintendent in January 2018, after serving as interim superintendent for six months. The first African-American to serve the district as superintendent, Lockhart oversaw the district’s increasing dedication to equity, diversion and inclusion — something she said the district continues to prioritize even after she is gone.

“I hope that our district continues to build on, explore, embrace and celebrate our diversity; and continuously work to be a shining example of how people of all races, religions, genders and ethnicities can uplift and celebrate each other,” she said. “I hope that we will seek opportunities to bring people together, make our differences something we acknowledge and honor, and fight racism and inequity at every turn.”

Lockhart said she is proud of the strides the district has taken to focus on the whole child and address students’ mental health as well as their physical and academic health. She called the current leadership team “some of the most dedicated, professional and outstanding leaders I have ever had the pleasure to work alongside” and saluted the district’s teachers and staff for their excellence, especially in the wake of the pandemic that changed everything.

“They adapted. They learned. They innovated,” she said. “In short, our teachers, administrators and staff put children first, and Culver City’s children are better for their efforts. I want to thank them for the sacrifices they made over the past year and for the many, many ways in which they have helped CCUSD move forward.”

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