Pleasantville Union Free School District Names Dr. Tina DeSa as Its Next Superintendent

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The Pleasantville Union Free School District Board of Education has unanimously approved Dr. Tina DeSa as the district’s next superintendent of schools. Dr. DeSa will assume the role of superintendent on January 1, 2022, after current Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter retires. Dr. DeSa will serve as deputy superintendent from November 1 to December 31, working alongside Mrs. Fox-Alter to facilitate a seamless transition.

Dr. DeSa comes to Pleasantville from the Arlington Central School District in LaGrangeville, NY, a district of about 8,200 students, where she has served as Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services since 2016. She oversees K-12 programs including special education, counseling services, safety and security, health services, central registration, home tutoring, speech-language and OT/PT therapy, and is the McKinney-Vento, 504, Wellness and DASA coordinator.

Dr. DeSa is praised by her colleagues for her hard work, passion, and commitment to meeting the learning needs of every student. She created and implemented a K-12 Comprehensive Student Support Plan to articulate and enhance support systems and social emotional learning for students. Committed to diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environments, Dr. DeSa is a member of the Arlington district-wide equity team and facilitates the Code of Conduct subcommittee. She has worked tirelessly to help lead Arlington through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In her time as a school and district leader, Tina has applied her expertise in K-12 curriculum and instruction and led the development of other educators and education leaders,” Board of Education President Larry Boes said. In a statement, the entire Board of Education went on to say, “Her deep interest in Pleasantville and our schools was clear throughout the interview process in the research and astute observations she brought to our conversations, along with the insightful questions she asked. We feel confident that she will lead our schools in ways that maintain all that is special while pushing us to be even better for every student. We ask that the community join us in welcoming her into our community as our next district leader.”

Prior to working in Arlington, Dr. DeSa spent three years as principal of Nassau Elementary School in the Spackenkill Union Free School District in Poughkeepsie, NY. She has also served as the network team leader for Dutchess BOCES where she supported teacher and administrator professional learning on learning standards, data-driven instruction, and pedagogical practices that support the teaching and learning process. Prior to her administrative experience, Dr. DeSa was an elementary teacher in several districts.

Dr. DeSa has a Doctor of Education in Instructional Leadership, a Professional Diploma in Instructional Leadership, and a Masters in Sociology from St. John’s University and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Manhattan College. Dr. DeSa played Division I soccer at Manhattan College and supported the student-athlete experience when she was Assistant Director for the Student Development for Athletes Center at St. John’s University.

“Pleasantville has a history of excellence in education and is clearly committed to working collaboratively to support all students,” said Dr. DeSa. “I look ahead with gratitude to lead and serve Pleasantville, a district focused on ensuring we set up learning experiences and nurture a culture that allows each student to be their very best self – as defined by them.”

The Board of Education selected Dr. DeSa after an extensive national search. The search process was supported by executive search firm Strategic Educational Advantage, led by veteran school district superintendents Dr. Michael Kuchar and Dr. Frank Auriemma. Dr. Kuchar and Dr. Auriemma began the process by conducting a community survey, to which 513 community residents responded, and focus groups and interviews with 159 stakeholders including district administrators, teachers and other school staff members, parents and guardians, and community leaders and residents. With the information gathered, the search firm and Board of Education developed a candidate profile that was used to advertise the position in more than a dozen local and national outlets. Through their input, the community made clear their desire for a leader who has a sophisticated understanding of curriculum and instruction and prioritizes and facilitates its continuous improvement; fosters a collaborative, positive climate of mutual trust and respect among all stakeholders; will establish and sustain a culture of high expectations for all students and personnel; is visible, approachable and available to students, staff, parents, and community; and demonstrates equity-focused leadership.

A diverse group of 50 candidates from across the country applied for the role, and the search consultants interviewed all of them. With the consultants’ support, the Board reduced the pool to 13 candidates whom they interviewed over Zoom. The Board then narrowed that group to six candidates whom they interviewed again over Zoom. The Board then chose four final candidates who were interviewed in person by the Board, as well as separately by an advisory panel of parents, teachers, and administrators whose feedback helped inform the selection of Dr. DeSa.

In the coming weeks, Dr. DeSa will begin meeting with a range of community members. The Board of Education will share information on opportunities to meet Dr. DeSa as they are scheduled.

Contact:  Jackie Burton, Communications Consultant

Larry Boes, President
Emily Rubin Persons, Vice President
Jill Grossman
Shane McGaffey
Angela Vella


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