Davis school board picks career district employee as new superintendent
FARMINGTON — The Davis School District board on Wednesday announced the hiring of Daniel Linford as the new superintendent to lead the county’s local schools through a period of rapid growth and efforts to curb racism that was called out last year in a scathing Justice Department report.
Linford, a career Davis School District employee, was introduced and gave brief remarks after the seven-member board ratified his appointment at a special meeting at district headquarters.
“Davis School District has an incredibly bright future and I am grateful to be a part of that,” said Linford, who introduced family members to the board and audience.
Linford, who has been a secondary school director since 2016, will become superintendent on July 1, replacing Superintendent Reid Newey, who is retiring from the district. District spokeswoman Hailey Higgins said Wednesday she did not know what salary Linford will be paid. According to state government compensation records, Newey receives $231,000 in salary and $85,000 in benefits.
John L. Robinson, the school board president, said hiring a superintendent “is the most important decision a board can make.” He thanked all participants in the recruitment process. “Nothing is ignored, everything factors in,” Robinson said.
Census data puts Davis County as one of the fastest-growing counties in Utah, having gained almost 20% in population from 2010-2020, and it is projected to grow another 7% by 2025. Voters in 2015 approved a $298 million bond for an array of school construction projects for the district of nearly 73,000 students.
Newey announced his retirement in January, after 30 years in education. It came three months after the Justice Department said a two-year investigation found widespread mistreatment of Black and Asian American students. The department and the district agreed on an extensive series of steps through which the district will improve systems and otherwise combat racism.
Among other steps since, the district has hired a third-party consultant approved by the federal agency to help the district on its new programs; hired a new assistant district superintendent to focus on diversity and equity issues; and created an equal opportunity office to investigate and resolve racial discrimination and harassment complaints.
The district also was subjected to scrutiny after a 10-year-old Foxboro Elementary student, Izzy Tichenor, died by suicide Nov. 6 and her mother said the school and district had dismissed her complaints that the girl was bullied because of her race and her autism. Izzy was Black.
An independent investigation report found that while reviewers could not document proof of the allegations, it found multiple systemic failures at Foxboro, such as teachers not understanding the district’s definition of bullying. It also documented an incident of offensive racial conversation among Foxboro staff and resistance to discipline over the matter.
Linford, a Clearfield High School graduate, began his career in education as a high school English teacher in 2005, a district news release said. He became Viewmont High School’s assistant principal in 2011. He holds a Weber State University bachelor’s degree in English teaching and University of Utah master’s and doctorate degrees in educational leadership and policy.
“Linford is highly qualified and well-respected in DSD and across the state for his work ethic and academic rigor,” the board said in a prepared statement, in part. “We see Linford as an innovative leader who will utilize his communication skills and open-minded approach to be a problem-solver and relationship builder.”
The board added that it “expects leadership that is accountable and equitable.”
In his application for the job, Linford said, “We must partner with families from all backgrounds to improve education together. I believe powerful education is the great equalizer.”
On Tuesday, the school district announced the hiring of Kenneth Auld as director of its new Office of Equal Opportunity, a position and agency both mandated in the Justice Department agreement.
Auld most recently was a human resources manager in the Jordan School District. After a career in juvenile corrections, Auld has worked 15 years in education. He received a Citizenship Award from the Unified Police Department for his work with students involved in gangs.