The Burbank Unified School District Board President Steve Ferguson announced in an email Thursday that District Superintendent Matt Hill has been placed on paid administrative leave following a Wednesday night closed-session vote of the board.
No information was initially provided by the Board over their motives for placing Hill on immediate leave.
“Know that the board did not take this action lightly. We also know that many of you will have questions. This action, however, is a confidential personnel matter. As a result, our answers to those questions will be limited to respect the superintendent’s employee privacy rights,” Ferguson wrote in an email to district stakeholders Thursday.
Just one week after Burbank students crossed the stage for graduation, it was announced that John Paramo, assistant superintendent of educational services, had agreed to serve as acting superintendent during Hill’s leave.
“Dr. Paramo knows our district and has over 30 years in education with a demonstrated commitment to student achievement and equity. The board is confident in Dr. Paramo’s ability to lead the district in this moment and deeply appreciates his willingness to do so,” Ferguson wrote.
When the Leader reached out to Hill, he declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding his leave, citing that the events unfolded in a confidential closed-session meeting.
Hill joined the district in 2015 as superintendent and navigated schools through the COVID-19 pandemic, online learning, vaccines and the subsequent transition back to in-person learning. He has also been a vocal proponent of diversity, equity and inclusion policy, and played a key role in getting the conversation started on DEI at the district level.
Through Hill’s tenure, the district has struggled to gain control over its budget, and staff retention issues remain a constant struggle for leadership. At least 10 principals have resigned from the district since 2022, and the Burbank Teacher’s Association has picketed in recent months over pay and stagnant contract negotiations.
School safety has been the focus of the district for the larger part of this year after a man was arrested in connection with a series of alleged sexual assaults that took place at Burbank High School in March. Other incidents occurred involving unwanted individuals accessing Burbank campuses. Additionally, stakeholders criticized the district after about a dozen students came forth alleging that the district leadership had not properly reported or handled sexual assault complaints seriously.
Last July, the board voted narrowly to renew Hill’s contract through 2025 and gave him a 5% raise retroactive to July 1, 2021.
The two dissenting votes came from then Board Member Steve Ferguson and Vice President Emily Weisberg, who suggested that the decision be postponed until Hill’s contract expired — which would have been July 1 — to better evaluate the superintendent.
“I find it very difficult to say to someone ‘your work has not been up to par’ when I feel like we’ve not provided … the opportunity to have forthright conversations about where the issues are and then provide opportunity to address those issues,” Weisberg said at the time.
The board will discuss and address the state of the district and its leadership at its regular meeting on June 15, Ferguson wrote.
First published in the June 10 print issue of the Burbank Leader.