First Canyons School District superintendent to resign
In a surprise announcement, Canyons School District Superintendent David S. Doty told the Board of Education April 16 that he will resign effective June 30, to lead an academic consulting and reform firm.
Doty has served in his position for five years. The board was slated to meet April 23 (after press deadline) to discuss its next steps in selecting a new superintendent.
“We were all very surprised and tried to talk him out of it,” Board member Kim Horiuchi said.
Doty, who is known for his thousands of Twitter messages, requested no interviews following the school board meeting.
At the meeting, he said it has been “a blessing to advocate for the 33,000 children who attend school in Canyons School District. I love them and hope that, in some small way, I have been able to give them hope and brighten their futures.”
Horiuchi said the board made the appropriate decision to hire him as Canyons’ first superintendent.
“I think the world of him. He was the right person to have at the right time. Voters wanted change, and he is a true innovator and changed the face of education in Utah,” she said.
Doty was appointed in August 2008, following a citizens’ vote to divide Jordan School District. He guided the east-side district through legal, financial and political changes as it became independent in July 2009.
Horiuchi said Doty’s first action was to evaluate existing school buildings and discovered $650 million was needed for upgrades.
“He immediately saw what dire conditions the buildings were that Canyons inherited,” she said.
Doty convinced voters to approve a $250 million school improvement bond and since then, there have been six different school renovations or new buildings. This led to comprehensive school boundary realignment and a grade reconfiguration, effective this August.
Former board member Paul McCarty recalls that while interviewing Doty to be the new school district’s first employee, Doty stressed having students take leadership and responsibility for their own education.
“He knew the model for the 21st century learning,” McCarty said. “He had implemented curriculum reform before the state had. He introduced graduating with honors, with more rigor and academic demand, and was met with criticism from the public. Yet colleges highly respect the distinction and now more students each year opt for it.”
Doty has met with criticism along the way, from parents to faculty. Last year, several questioned his leadership style, and a petition called for an investigation into Doty using bullying and intimidation to maintain control. The school board backed Doty.
McCarty said Doty’s fluent Spanish was an asset to Spanish-speaking parents, making them feel connected. He said in the first few years, Doty made about 350 formal and informal appearances at schools during Parent-Teacher Association events, faculty meetings and classroom visits.
Willow Springs Principal Sharyle Karren recalls when Doty read several Dr. Seuss books to students to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday.
“He challenged the second-graders that he could read the whole book as fast as he could without making a mistake,” she said. “He lost on the last page. He bought them all pizza and came to school to eat lunch with them during the pizza party. That’s the kind of guy he is.”
Others recall him riding school busses when the district became Canyons School District. He has rolled out red carpets to welcome students to their first day of school each year. He has sung in a school choir rehearsal, helped with service work and tutored a student with homework.
“He is more than meets the eye,” McCarty said. “He is the most honest man I know and he truly wants to do what he can to help each child succeed.”