“I’m very very bothered” GDOE interim Superintendent words on incoming Superintendent


Concerns are in the air regarding selection of Dr. Kenneth Swanson for the next Guam Department of Education Superintendent – and how position was not given to a local applicant.

“You know I’m very verry bothered by the fact that it’s not a local person, but again that’s not my decision to make,” says GDOE Interim Superintendent Francis Santos.

In an interview on NewsTalk K57 – with Patti Arroyo – Santos told listeners that the Superintendent position is going to someone not from Guam.

Saying that – although Dr. Swanson has the credentials – there are qualified local candidates who have experience in the GDOE system and culture.

“There’s Dr. Judi Guthertz, Dr. Michelle Santos…Former GCC President, Dr. Hermie Delos Santos was an applicant – a qualified applicant and made the cut. There was local candidates.”

The Interim Superintendent – who’s last day holding the title is today – emphasizes that he did not have a hand in the voting process – and that the decision was left up to the Guam Education Board.

Despite Dr. Swanson not physically being in Guam when voted for the position – the proposed Superintendent has been in Guam before. As he taught in the DoDea school system.

According to the Board of Education – Dr. Swanson is not new to the role of Superintendent – as he took the mantle in Omak, Washington – where under his leadership the district became an early adopter of the Cognia System Accreditation model in 2017.

PNC reached out to 4 GDOE teachers on how they feel regarding the new Superintendent being an off island hire.

One teacher told PNC – “I personally have no issues with it. I think it would be a breathe of fresh air after the last two superintendents being local. He can bring new perspectives and ideas to the island, all hopefully for the better.”

Another one mentioned that they hope Dr. Swanson comes on island soon in order to see how the school system works first hand – saying “some things are hard to grasp unless you’re there in person.”

Another teacher shared a similar statement, saying, “I just hope he takes the time to see what Guam is like, especially in all the schools. I also hope when he sees the issues in the school, he actually does something about it.”

The last teacher told PNC – that based on resume – that they are hopeful with Dr. Swanson’s hire, saying, “Based on his experience working with low-income schools, I hope he’ll be an advocate for the parts of our system that needs attention. I’m sure his background in choir and music brings comfort to teachers working in those respective areas as well – like an ally. As long as he does what’s right.”

In a statement to PNC – Dr. Mary Okada, vice-char of the Guam Education Board, said, “We thank all that applied for the position of GDOE Superintendent. As we move forward with this process, we want to ensure that we focus on the great work that the department has made to support the many initiatives for students. We look forward to everyone’s support for Dr Swanson.”

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News Director for the Pacific News Center, Don was born and raised on the island of Saipan and moved to Guam in the Spring of 2016 to pursue higher education at the University of Guam. It was at UOG that Don discovered his passion for keeping his peers politically informed. In his free time, you can find him flying his drone or doing landscape and portrait photography. Don joined the PNC News Team to broaden his writing, and to challenge himself to get in front of the camera. Don’s ultimate goal and passion is to have a well informed and politically engaged Marianas.