Black School Superintendent Fails To Meet Expectations

beneath the shadow of the highly accomplished superintendent and the district’s shiny veneer something was rotten in the classro
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Photos: IE Voice\WUHSD\YouTube

During his eight year tenure as superintendent of the Victor Valley Unified High School District Dr. Ron Williams was singled out for several individual honors. He was named superintendent of the year in 2019 by the California Association of African-American Superintendents and Administrators (CAAASA) in 2019. In 2017 he was recognized by by the Association of California School Administrators in San Bernardino and the national School Superintendents Association also identified Williams as a finalist for a national superintendent of the year award.

Under Williams’ leadership the district reported an increase in student enrollment, new school facilities were built and it boasted of receiving several awards including a National Blue Ribbon Award, three California Distinguished School Awards, three California Pivotal Practice Awards and three California School Boards Association Golden Bell Awards.

But beneath the shadow of the highly accomplished superintendent and the district’s shiny veneer something was rotten in the classrooms and hallways of schools in the Victor Valley Union High School District (VVUHSD).

In late August the Office for Civil Rights determined VVUHSD practiced discrimination based on race in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by disciplining Black students more frequently and more harshly than white students.

The question is whether Williams was duped by his predecessor and the VVUHSD into being the last one responsible when the district’s structural and institutional foundation of discrimination cracked causing the edifice of disparate treatment to crumble? Was he a willing participant in blatant discrimination against students of his own race? Or, was there a problem with his ofacatory system that impeded his ability to smell the pervasive stench of discrimination across the school district he shepherded?

In April 2019, when Black Voice News reported on Williams recognition by CAAASA, Williams was one of only 25 Black superintendents in the entire state of California. There was pride in his accomplishments.

Was it too much for members of the Black community, for his peers in CAAASA, for residents of Victor Valley and San Bernardino County, for residents of the inland region, the state of California, those who fought for him and others to have opportunities to hold such a prestigious position, or for the ancestors to have expected him to be righteous? To lead with honor, integrity and justice? To, at a minimum, honor and uphold the law.

In reality members of the Black community expect no more from our Black leaders than we do any leader–to serve with integrity to push through barriers of structural and institutional racism so that everyone, regardless of race, creed or color is treated fairly.

The Black community only expects of Black leaders what we expect of other leaders. If Williams’ tried and failed in his efforts to prevent such racist treatment of Black students entrusted to his care, then kudos to him. But, if he was trying to do what was right and was being sabotaged, why didn’t he administer discipline, reach out for assistance, and blow the whistle?