Finalist Named in Search for West Contra Costa's Next Superintendent

Don Gosney


Marcus E. Walton ~ Communications Director ~ West Contra Costa Unified School District


Marking a new era in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, the Board of Education announced that it has selected Milpitas Unified School District administrator Matt Duffy as the sole finalist for the position of superintendent. The Board is scheduled to vote on the hire during its meeting on Wednesday, June 15, at 6:30 p.m. at DeJean Middle School.

Duffy is being considered to succeed Dr. Bruce Harter, who is retiring on June 30 after serving as superintendent for 10 years.

“Understanding the communities we serve and the needs of our citizens is vitally important and Matthew Duffy gets it,” Board President Randy Enos said. “He has experience serving students who are like ours and has a track record of improving schools as a teacher, principal and district administrator. I look forward to working with him for the success of our students and community.”

Duffy has served as the assistant superintendent for educational services in Milpitas for the last three years. In this role he is responsible for the preK-12 instructional program for more than 10,000 students as well as leadership, enrollment, technology, special education and Local Control Accountability Plan development.  During his tenure at Milpitas Unified, Duffy started a new dual language immersion school, significantly increased professional learning opportunities for all staff and expanded the music program each year.

“I am extremely excited to be the finalist for the superintendent position in the West Contra Costa Unified School District,” Duffy said. “I am eager to build on the current work and direction of the District while I get to know the community it serves. I strongly believe that all students can achieve at high levels, and I look forward to working with the teachers, parents and community partners to provide the highest quality education possible for the students of West Contra Costa County.”

Before going to Milpitas, Duffy was a senior executive director for New Leaders for New Schools, a national non-profit organization that develops and trains school administrators. He was an administrator in the Oakland Unified School District for nine years, starting as principal of Elmhurst Middle School in 2003. In 2006, Duffy became the founding principal of Elmhurst Community Prep Middle School, a small middle school in East Oakland. He was promoted to regional superintendent in 2009, supervising 15 middle and high schools.

Elmhurst Middle School experienced a double digit growth in math and reading proficiency, a 100 percent reduction in suspensions and incidents of violence, and teacher retention improved by 50 percent under Duffy’s leadership. During his tenure at Elmhurst Community Prep, the school had the highest Academic Performance Index for African American students in the Oakland Unified School District, strong annual gains on the California Standards Test and increased parent participation to 95 percent.

As Duffy enters WCCUSD, the District has seen accountability measures trending in a positive direction. The graduation rate is at 84.7 percent, nearly 42 percent of seniors met the requirements to attend a California State University or University of California campus, and the annual dropout rate has fallen to 2.7 percent.

Yet, much remains to be done to ensure all students are prepared for success in college and career.

Duffy said he looks forward to learning more about exciting programs already in place such as Linked Learning, dual language immersion, and restorative practices.

“There are no silver bullets in education. If you create great teams and great cultures for students, staff and families, anything is possible and that’s what I’ve tried to do throughout my career,” Duffy said. “I’m not entering the District with a turnaround lens although there are important issues that require prompt attention. It’s essential for me to get to know the people, programs and structures so that we can work together to achieve the district’s goals and make sure each child in our district receives a high quality education.”

Born and raised in New York City, Duffy spent four years teaching middle school in the South Bronx and three years as an assistant principal in Harlem. He lives in Oakland with his wife, Tamara, and two sons, Caelin and Leo, who are 7 and 5.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Wesleyan University, a Master of Arts as a teacher of social studies from Lehman College and a second master’s in administration, policy and planning from Harvard. Duffy is also a proficient Spanish speaker.

Duffy was selected after the Board reviewed 22 applications and interviewed seven candidates. He is expected to begin work in early July.

To learn more about Matt Duffy:

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