Soon-to-be Humboldt County Superintendent of Schools Michael Davies-Hughes.
The Humboldt County Board of Education voted after a marathon special session this evening to appoint Michael Davies-Hughes as the county's next superintendent of schools.
Davies-Hughes will take over for Superintendent Chris Hartley, who has held the post since March of 2017 when he took over for Garry Eagles but has announced he will step down from the post Nov. 2 to take a position as the deputy executive director of the California Collaborative for Education Excellence. But Davies-Hughes' tenure could prove brief, as Hartley's term expires in January of 2023, meaning Davies-Hughes will go before voters in June of 2022.
The board repeatedly praised the deep pool of candidates for the position — which also included Fortuna Union High School District Superintendent Glen Senestraro, Arcata Elementary School District Superintendent Luke Biesecker, McKinleyville Unified School District Heidi Moore-Guynup and Assistant County Superintendent of Schools Colby Smart — before bringing the matter to a vote. It then saw motions to appoint Moore-Guynup and Smart fail before considering Davies-Hughes.
Hartley's unexpected resignation — accepted by the board Oct. 5 — prompted the board to conduct an expedited search for the county's next top education official, and this evening's discussion saw the board wrestle with the ramifications of that, as some supported the continuity Smart would bring to the position and concerns about the "domino effect" of multiple officials changing positions during a school year already complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But a majority of the board ultimately supported the appointment of Davies-Hughes to the post.
Currently the assistant superintendent of Eureka City Schools, the county's largest district, Davies-Hughes previously served as the superintendent of McKinleyville Union School District and principal of Morris Elementary School. Davies-Hughes has also made local headlines for his passion for distance bicycling, which he used to raise $30,000 for local literacy programs while embarking on a 3,000-mile ride as a part of the Race Across America.
Davies-Hughes will be sworn in at a future date.