Incoming interim Superintendent Lamont Jackson speaks during Zoom news conference reacting to Cindy Marten nomination to Department of Education post.

The San Diego Unified School District board on Monday announced it has chosen insider Lamont Jackson as interim superintendent through 2021 when Cindy Marten leaves her job for Washington, where she’s nominated for deputy secretary of education in the Biden administration.

“My commitment is that … we remain focused on equity, diversity and inclusion,” Jackson said in a Zoom news conference. “We’re not going to be apologetic in the least.”

School board president Richard Barrera said the Jackson decision was made Sunday in a closed session. He said he learned of Marten’s nomination Friday. (She didn’t appear in the 48-minute Zoom call.)

“I don’t think those shoes can be filled,” Jackson said of Marten, jokingly referring to her high heels but also her legacy. “I’m looking forward to the work…. what a wonderful day to be announced.”

Barrera praised Jackson, an area superintendent, and said Jackson will provide “stability and leadership” in the state’s second-largest school district.

Vice President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne said she recalled him when he first came into the district, moving from teacher to principal and other roles, including head of human resources.

“I have been really proud of the work that he’s done,” she said.

In a tweet, Marten called Jackson an outstanding pick as her successor.

“I cannot imagine a better choice to continue the progress San Diego Unified students are making than Dr. Lamont Jackson,” she said. “He makes decisions based on students and he is 100% committed to a #BetterSD.”

Jackson is Area 2 superintendent — overseeing the Mira Mesa, Morse, University City and Clairemont school clusters.

His bio said Jackson grew up in San Diego, graduated in the San Diego Unified School District and has more than 25 years of experience in education, serving as a mentor, workshop presenter, educational consultant, teacher, site administrator and district administrator.

“Mr. Jackson served as a classroom teacher at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in San Diego,” the bio said. “He has facilitated learning for the California League of Middle School and other educational conferences.”

Jackson also took part in the middle level reform work with the EDNA McConnell Clark Foundation, and was a keynote speaker at the NSDC conference in Washington DC in 2006. In 1999, he became a member of the first Educational Leadership Development Academy, a collaborative effort between the SDUSD and USD to support leadership development.

In 2000, he was named principal of Montgomery Middle School in San Diego, becoming the youngest principal at the secondary level. He also served as the principal at Challenger Middle School and Wangenheim Middle School in San Diego.

Jackson served as a certificated staffing administrator before being named chief human resources Officer, serving from 2010 to 2013.

Shown on Monday Zoom conference are (from left, top) Trustee Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, Trustee Mike McQuary, board President Richard Barrera, incoming interim Superintendent Lamont Jackson, district spokeswoman Maureen Magee, Trustee Sabrina Bazzo and Trustee Kevin Beiser.

“Jackson has supported other school districts in California that were under state review,”
the bio said. “In addition to his work in San Diego, Mr. Jackson served as an educational consultant in Flint, Michigan supporting middle school principals in their efforts to improve in the areas of leadership and professional development.”

Jackson holds a B.A. in sociology/social sciences from San Diego State University, a master’s degree from University of San Diego, and a doctorate from USD.*

Promising a transparent process, Barrera said the school board will meet in coming weeks to set up the means for hiring a permanent superintendent. He said he expects Marten’s Senate confirmation hearing to take place in February.

Marten isn’t the first San Diego Unified schools chief nominated to a federal post. Alan Bersin served as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection under President Obama.

Bersin also was assistant secretary of international affairs and chief diplomatic Officer for the Department of Homeland Security from January 2012 to January 2017.

Updated at 4:03 p.m. Jan. 18, 2021

*An earlier version of this report incorrectly said Jackson earned his doctorate from USC.