In an action announced at a special board meeting on Dec. 27, Valley Home Joint School District Board of Trustees hired Rolanda Desrosiers-Lewis as the new Superintendent/Principal.
Her first official day was Tuesday, Jan. 3, the day the students returned to school from winter break. Valley Home is an approximately 170-student, K-8 district.
Desrosiers-Lewis is the first woman to serve as Valley Home’s superintendent/principal. She replaces Thomas Kevin Hart who was superintendent of the Valley Home district since 2008 where his annual salary was $94,760. Desrosiers-Lewis’ annual salary will be equal.
The Valley Home district has no financial obligation to Hart at this time because he is on unpaid leave. However, with his continued absence, the board of trustees decided to move forward with a permanent replacement.
Retired Oakdale Joint Unified School District Superintendent Fred Rich served as the interim superintendent during Hart’s absence for the first half of the 2011-2012 school year at a daily rate of $430. Former OJUSD Superintendent Dr. Wendell Chun also briefly volunteered in an interim role at the start of the school year. Chun’s company, Education Leadership Services, assisted the Valley Home district in its search to find a new superintendent.
Out of 17 applications submitted, five candidates were selected for interviews on Dec. 16. Of those, three were called back for interviews on Dec. 17. The school board made its decision to go with Desrosiers-Lewis that same day.
The Valley Home school trustees also approved for Rich to serve as a consultant to assist Desrosiers-Lewis with the transition to the Superintendent/Principal role.
According to her bio, Desrosiers-Lewis was raised in Stockton, attended the local schools, and currently resides in Ripon. She graduated from University of the Pacific with a bachelor’s degree; her career started in Lincoln Unified School District as a classroom teacher in the 1970s. She taught most elementary grades and seventh/eighth grade science in LUSD for 15 years.
After completing her master’s degree at Fresno Pacific, she chose to move into administration. Her administrative credentials were obtained from University of the Pacific. She was then hired by Modesto City Schools where she has been employed for the past 21 years. Desrosiers-Lewis was first hired by MCS as a vice principal at La Loma Junior High School in the 1990s where she served in the post for six years. She was then promoted to serve in the principal role at Garrison elementary, then at Robertson Road, Roosevelt junior high, and Marshall elementary schools consecutively.
She served as MCS’ Director of Education for the past four years where she was responsible for supervising principals, developing K-6 curriculum, and addressing current initiatives in K-6 education.
Hart was put on administrative leave on July 19, 2011 by a unanimous action of the Valley Home school board. He was charged on Aug. 5, 2011 by the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office with felony child molestation, although not related to students at the school, according to a source on the school board.
Hart was put on compulsory leave, effective Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011 pursuant to California education code 44010, which has to do with a sex offense, and code 44940, which is being charged with a mandatory leave of absence offense. His legal case is ongoing.