Inglewood Unified School District gets new state administrator

File: The exterior of the Inglewood Unified School District education center and headquarters.
File: The exterior of the Inglewood Unified School District education center and headquarters.
Grant Slater/KPCC

California State Superintendent Tom Torlakson has appointed Vincent Matthews the new state administrator for the Inglewood Unified School District, according to a press release from the state Department of Education.

Matthews, superintendent of San Jose Unified, starts Oct. 19 with an annual salary of $250,000. 

"I have no doubt we can deliver a high-quality education in every classroom and return local control to the elected school board," Matthews said in the release.

Inglewood Unified has been under state control since October 2012, when the district requested emergency loans to help meet its financial obligations. The state approved up to $55 million, and the district has taken $29 million in loans, which must be repaid within 20 years.

That emergency legislation also required the state superintendent to take over governing of the district and to appoint a state administrator, reducing the school's elected board to an advisory capacity until the district has put in place better financial systems and controls. It's up to the state superintendent to decide whether the district can comply with a future financial plan.

Beyond his background as superintendent of San Jose Unified, Matthews previously served as a state administrator for another district under state control, the Oakland Unified School District. That district was ultimately returned to local control. He also worked as an area superintendent for the San Diego Unified School District.

Matthews was previously a teacher and administrator at other schools around California, including both public and charter schools in San Francisco.

"There are very few leaders who have led districts under state receivership and Dr. Matthews is one of them. His experience and passion are the right fit at the right time for the Inglewood school community," Torklakson said in the release.

Matthews takes over for Don Brann, the Inglewood Unified trustee appointed by Torlakson in 2013 as its third trustee. Brann announced his intention to step down in June, although he did not cite his reasons. 

He said at the time that Inglewood school district's budget would be balanced for the first time since the state takeover.

Brann's tenure was not without controversy: Inglewood school union leaders criticized Brann last year for spending $335,000 on a driver who also provided security while implementing belt-tightening districtwide. Brann angered some when he said he needed the security because he feared he might get hurt in Inglewood.

Brann lives in nearby El Segundo. He later apologized for his "insensitive" remarks.

In November, KPCC reported on the dilapidated facilities, faulty fire alarms and filthy restrooms at Inglewood High School, prompting a cleanup.

Inglewood Unified is the ninth California school district to request emergency loans since 1990. Since then, seven of those districts have been returned to local control.

Correction: A previous version of this story said Matthews is a former superintendent of San Jose Unified. He is the district's current superintendent.