Sandoval announced Monday that he’s appointed James W. Guthrie to take the Las Vegas-based position April 2. Guthrie replaces Keith Rheault, who is retiring after serving as superintendent since 2004.
“After the passage of education reform in the last legislative session, for Nevada to have access to a figure with a national reputation is the perfect next step,” Sandoval said in a statement. “I am honored and thrilled Dr. Guthrie has agreed to help lead Nevada as we continue strengthening education in our great state.”
As senior fellow and director of education policy studies at the Dallas-based institute, Guthrie was responsible for researching and implementing programs that developed leadership among principals and strengthened schools, according to the organization’s website.
Guthrie held a concurrent teaching job at the education school of Southern Methodist University. Previously, he served as an education specialist in the U.S. Senate, and worked in the education schools of the University of California, Berkeley, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Southern California.
He wrote or co-wrote 20 books and has published more than 200 professional and scholarly articles.
Guthrie has a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and Ph.D. from Stanford University. He completed one postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University and another at Oxford Brooks College in the United Kingdom.
Sandoval said Guthrie garnered unanimous support from the State Board of Education, which conducted interviews for the job.
But the actual appointment came from the governor himself, in line with a new process Nevada legislators approved in 2011 along with other Sandoval-sponsored education reforms.
Other measures ended the practice of protecting teachers based on seniority in the event of layoffs and revamped evaluation procedures to make it easier to fire underperforming teachers.
Probationary periods for new employees were extended from one or two years to three years, and experienced teachers can be placed back on probation if they consistently underperform. During probation, a district has broad latitude to not to renew a teacher’s contract at the end of the year.
Guthrie was the only out-of-state candidate among the three finalists for the superintendent job. Other contenders were Rene Cantu Jr., executive director of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation and former vice president of multicultural affairs at Nevada State College, and Caroline McIntosh, school superintendent in Lyon County.