Nuh Kimbwala


Nuh Kimbwala

Harding Principal Removed from Post

Head of Westside Elementary School Replaced Before First Semester Ends

Friday, November 16, 2012
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The principal of Harding University Partnership School, Nuh Kimbwala, was removed from his post Friday and Assistant Principal Vanesha Davis will be assuming leadership of the school, the Santa Barbara district said in a press release.

Davis has only been employed by the district for three weeks since she joined the Harding staff as an assistant principal. Previously she worked in South Central Los Angeles as a literacy coach, teacher, and administrator. She speaks Spanish fluently. Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education, Emilio Handall, said, “We think she is going to be able to perform the duties during this time.” He was not sure whether the district would begin a search for a new principal or not.

While nobody would comment on the record about the circumstance that precipitated Kimbwala’s replacement, parents at Harding became disillusioned with him almost immediately after the academic year began. He was hired late in the summer to replace outgoing principal Sally Kingston who had instituted an IB (International Baccalaureate) curriculum, a partnership with UCSB, and a host of programs supported by foundations and nonprofits.

Although Harding is sometimes described as an elementary school on steroids, Susan Rakov, founding president of the Harding School Foundation, did not believe that the intricacies of the particular job led to Kimbwala’s disappointing performance. “It’s not like you needed a genius. We had a plan. We knew what we were doing.

“Mr. Kimbwala was just not up to the standards that the Harding community had come to expect,” said Rakov. “From day one, he didn’t communicate with parents, get out on the playgrounds, or visit the classrooms.” When she met with him, Rakov said, “he cast aspersions against the previous principal. It was ridiculous that he was doing that publicly to an involved parent.”

Current foundation President Brian Robinson said, “I was on the selection committee for him being hired, and he was a very good interviewer. He had an impressive resume, and we all felt like he was a perfect fit for the school. When he got there, he was not the person we interviewed.” Robinson said that Kimbwala was uncommunicative and that campus security and student discipline were issues.

“In spite of it all, none of the problems that I saw as a parent ever got into the classroom,” said Robinson. The teachers continue to do an amazing job. They are consummate professionals. I never saw [the situation] affect my kids’ education.”

Kimbwala was previously the principal of Bloomington Middle School in the Colton Joint Unified School District. His salary at Harding is listed as between $98,428 and $110,633.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

For $98,000+ I'd be glad to visit the classrooms and interact with the people. He must have plenty of money saved up to pass up that salary.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
November 16, 2012 at 5:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Advice to Harding parents:

Hire a business person with management experience as Principal. A school is a business except instead of focusing on profit generation, the objective is educating kids. A talented, smart, high achieving manager would make an excellent Principal and probably can be found locally for under 100k/yr.

Good luck!

Lars (anonymous profile)
November 16, 2012 at 8:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Crazy talk Lars-Ideology trumps ability and a set of managerial tools.
“It’s not like you needed a genius. We had a plan. We knew what we were doing.” Well they obviously did not get a genius and their plan is a little suspect as well. I just went to the State website and looked at their standardized test scores which are in the toilet.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 5:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is tragic from every angle. It is interesting to note that the teachers are noted to be amazing professionals. I have heard this before and I think they have kept this school together for a LONG time. Get rid of the administrative position and promote one of them to be Head Teacher.

sharpen123 (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 6:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Amazing that Lars writes "A school is a business" ...
This is just not so. Certainly making ends meet, managing the budget you're given by the state, salaries etc. are crucial, but these are the underpinnings of a great school. Great teachers, a vibrant curriculum, alert students, parent support, and adequate state funding are even more important. Way too much emphasis on the CEO/manager angle, what we need is like sharpen123 writes: get rid of the administrative position and promote a top teacher from within as Head. Cut administration, add great teachers, eliminate deadwood (yes), decrease class size, involve the parents more.
This really is tragic from every angle; Harding is a good school dealing with a student population that mostly lacks mother tongue English. They have made real progress recently, especially under the former Principal Kingston: she fled from the job, early, without completing her task there. She bears some responsibility here.
Italiansurg, I have studied the STAR test results, and Harding's are indeed low: they have always been low, however, and much of this stems from the socio-economic conditions of the parents and of the Westside itself. No, this isn't an excuse, but look where almost all the high-scoring public schools are located in SB: Cold Springs (Montecito), Montecito Union, the Hope School district's 3 schools...

DrDan (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 9:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Any selection committee must necessarily put a candidate through his/her paces with in-depth probing of the works of Alfred North Whitehead. May I respectfully submit this link and at the same time apologize should that selection committee so probed on the works of Alfred North Whitehead?

I do suspect that to a mathematical certainty all high-scoring institutions of learning are captained by fine educators who do in fact have a deep understanding of the works by Alfred North Whitehead -- for starters!

salsipuedes (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 10:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Recent Harding School news regarding test scores, moving significantly upward from historic low rankings (perhaps unaffected by 'ideology' or the works of Lord Whitehead):

djfranchise (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 10:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Whitehead is great, and very dated, which isn't a bad thing...I've worked at schools which embraced many of his concepts and ideas. Howard Gardner and Diane Ravitch also come to mind as good resources. However, salsipuedes, the trend is now to have "managers" (cf. Lars's idea) heading these public schools, and then throw machines at the kids while you reduce staff and cut benefits and pensions. There is a place for effective use of laptops/iPad and so on in excellent teaching, but there is no substitute for face-to-face teaching in reasonably-sized classes (say, 1:20 in grades K - 2; 1:25 in grades 3-5; and so on increasing into H.S.). I recall Pres. Obama specifically mentioning issues with class size in the 3rd presidential debate.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 11:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

djfranchise, thanks for this good news re Harding School students and their improvement. In the 2012 STAR Test Results (sorry my ref here is SBNews-Press, uh News-SUPpress, 9/1/12, pA-10) shows many districts. The 14 local elementary schools listed under the S.B. Unified School District show a percentage of students ranked "proficient or advanced" in 3 categories: English, Math, and Science. Of the 14 schools only Adelante and Cleveland ranked below Harding in English. Harding students had 43% proficient in English, 53% proficient in math, and 41% proficient in science. The top two schools of the 14 were, predictably, Washington Elem. and Roosevelt. Washington students ranked proficient or better at 83% in English, 84% in math, and 85% in science.
Over in Montecito Cold Spring School had 92% proficient in English, 94% in math, and 96% in Science; Montecito Union kids were lose behind.
One glance at the socio-economic conditions of the respective home school areas reveals the reason for these scores.
Tests aren't especially meaningful to reflect how good a school is, and Harding kids are doing better. Don't need Whitehead.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 11:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Over in Montecito Cold Spring School had 92% proficient in English, 94% in math, and 96% in Science; Montecito Union kids were lose (sic) behind." Thank you for those impressive stats, DrDan. There for a moment I could've sworn you were describing The Bronx High School of Science!

Perhaps you have found a different and just as result preducing road to Rome. In which case, God's speed and good fortune to the students of Harding. I am not monogamous to only one approach toward education.

salsipuedes (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 12:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oops! I loathe hitting the wrong keys. Correction: ...producing road..." Apologies, please.

salsipuedes (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 12:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I didn't see it referenced in this article, but Noozhawk is reporting that Kimbwala is being investigated for an undisclosed "incident":

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 2:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Looks like we have lots of racist parents, teachers, and staff at Harding school

jukin (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 3:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@jukin...I'm afraid you've lost me entirely. I did not infer any such difficulties in the article. Normally, such a large statement deserves some details to justify making so explosive a charge.

salsipuedes (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 4:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Self-written bio's with photos for Kimbwala and Davis here:

An interesting contrast in writing styles.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 4:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Mr. Kimbwala's bio reads like he's running for the New Jersey State Senate.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 5:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Which isn't a bad thing. I wish he and Ms. Davis much success and happiness.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 5:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"This is just alittle bump in the road." Sure seems to be alot of Little bumps in the road in Santa Barbara.

Byrd (anonymous profile)
November 18, 2012 at 6:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Re the bios: The rather self-aggrandizing "tone" of Kimbwala's is off-putting to me. It does sound like he's running, and running a bit too hard, for something. It's fine to list one's accomplishments and strive for a "punchy" sort of style, but this one doesn't work, IMO.
Also, I'm always a bit concerned when a self-described "educator" refers to a "masters" (sic) and this sort of mistake then makes it into an official source such as the Harding website.
Maybe it's a minor detail, but it doesn't reflect well either on the individual who's taking over at Harding or the school itself.

zappa (anonymous profile)
November 18, 2012 at 7:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

How come Asian kids, one of the most discriminated against "groups" in this country, excel at math even when they reside in non English, mono cultural ghetto's that are at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale? I'm having a hard time understanding why lack of English skills translate into crappy math acumen in this case. And while I agree with DD that schools are indeed not a traditional business, moving teachers up to administrative roles can also be a train wreck since being an effective administrator of a larger entity is a separate skill from being a good teacher.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
November 18, 2012 at 7:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Italiansurg: Maybe somewhat apropos of your comment, I found this, from the NYT last month, to be very interesting:

FWIW,I do think that economic and class factors can play a role, but it's certainly not the only one. There has to be an effort and willingness to learn that is present in the students and shared by the families who need to support them as well.

zappa (anonymous profile)
November 18, 2012 at 7:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I read that article when it came out, thanks for finding it again. Much like in San Francisco, when this particular oppressed minority excelled the groups that were left in the dust began whining again and attempting to change the rules that they had already changed to make up for an "unfair system". Does anyone take responsibility for their own problems these days? Excuse me, other than Asians, does anyone take responsibility for their own problems these days?

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
November 18, 2012 at 8:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

From the looks of it, something about doors not hitting backsides is apparently quite appropriate here.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
November 18, 2012 at 8:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"How come Asian kids, one of the most discriminated against "groups" in this country, excel at math even when they reside in non English, mono cultural ghetto's that are at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale? "

High expectations, and hidden racism among many whites who proudly think of themselves as "progressive".

Ever notice how when a white person talks in double negatives other whites make fun of them as "trailer trash" or "rednecks" but when a black person talks in double negatives these same white folks think it's cute and trendy? It's no different from the social engineers who feel Asian people can learn English but Hispanics can't. They call other people "racist" for disagreeing with them while failing to see their own.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
November 18, 2012 at 3:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Discrimination against the Chinese in America (as an example) is deeper than I thought:,blog...

The US Senate even made a symbolic apology in 2011:

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
November 18, 2012 at 9:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No, billclausen, I have not noticed that.

SezMe (anonymous profile)
November 19, 2012 at 1:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If the school should be run like a business, then they just terminated the CEO.


John_Adams (anonymous profile)
November 19, 2012 at 7:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I got your point William.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
November 19, 2012 at 10:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

From a more recent article about Harding and this man by Fastman we learn that Kimbwala is under investigation for misdemeanor child abuse (not sexual)... While I'm a complete supporter of public education, and admire Harding School's teaching staff and children, I have to ask where the heck the SBUSD higher administrators were for the 4 months Kimbwala was doing nothing and even possibly committing misdemeanors on campus??!!! There is more to come from this.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
November 23, 2012 at 8:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Dr Dan mentions that Principal Kingston fled from her job at Harding early - well that"s what she always does! Over the past 15 years she's been all over the place, in all kinds of positions in local school districts. She never seems to last more than 3 years at any of them.

bloodydramaqueen (anonymous profile)
November 24, 2012 at 5:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

as a former 16 yr school administrator (not SB schools), one can see that 2 - 3 year slots often are best for the careerists, those who want to rise in the hierarchy, the climbers for $ and status.
I do not know Kingston, but everyone around Harding believes she was instrumental in key changes there, BUT she ran off to Carpinteria BEFORE FINISHING HER JOB of turning the school around.
CHALLENGE: former Principal Kingston, step up to the challenge, come back from Carp. and Supt. Paul Cordeiro and FINISH YOUR JOB. The Harding kids need you. Put these kids before your career advancement, eh? You will feel good about yourself.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
November 24, 2012 at 7:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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