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Kern High School Superintendent Don Carter plans to retire at the end of the school year.

At a Monday hearing held to gather input on the qualities the public would like to see in the Kern High School District's next superintendent, speakers called on the board of trustees to cast a wider net in its search for a successor to retiring superintendent Don Carter.

The district plans to limit its first interviews to a handful of internal candidates, but says it will look outside if not satisfied with the results.

"We strongly recommend that the district conduct an open search," said Erika Brooks of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. "It is our belief that the issues and challenges facing the district at this juncture require the appointment of someone with a different perspective and approach to solving these complex problems."

About 100 people attended the 90-minute hearing at KHSD offices on Sundale Avenue.

Noting that the racial and ethnic makeup of the district is mostly children of color, southwest Bakersfield resident Bernice Bonillas said she wants an effort made to find a superintendent who is a minority.

Former trustee Ken Mettler said he'd like to see someone hired who is creative and thinks outside the box, particularly someone who will pay more attention to career technical instruction.

Trustee Mike Williams asked fellow board members about the speed of the hiring process if the board used a consultant for a statewide or nationwide search. Board President Chad Vegas said since the process had already begun it would be slowed considerably.

The board wants to conclude interviews this school year so the new superintendent will be in place by Aug. 1, when Carter steps down.

Critics have called on the board to appoint an interim superintendent and take more time to consider a broader array of candidates.

The board said even the most disparate groups seemed to agree on most of the qualifications the district should seek in a new leader.