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Linda Common heads to Palo Alto

Former Woodside High principal delays retirement for role as assistant superintendent.

Linda Common, a former principal of Woodside High School and the director of special education for the Sequoia Union High School District, has been recommended as assistant superintendent for administrative services in the Palo Alto Unified School District.

The Palo Alto district's Board of Trustees is expected to approve her appointment on June 23, according to a district statement. Ms. Common's new job would include oversight of curriculums for the high schools and middle schools in the district, Ms. Common said in an interview.

"I am very excited about my new position," she said. She had planned to retire and maybe do some special education work on the side, but was contacted by the Palo Alto district.

"I had an opportunity and I was called and asked and came in and it was really something that I really wanted to have and I took it," she said. "It's just a new adventure for me."

Ms. Common has been with the Sequoia district since July 1996, when she came to Woodside High as principal. In January 2007, she took over special education for the district, and she's enjoyed it, she said.

The number of kids with special needs such as autism is on the rise, and she was constantly busy, she said, going from one meeting to another to another to make sure a child was correctly placed, had access to the right equipment and had proper transportation. Litigation not infrequently had her talking with lawyers.

"There is a tremendous amount of follow-through," she said. "Boy, it's a tough job. It's a very tough job. My hat's off to every special education director in the country."

Ms. Common has a resource-specialist credential, a learning-handicapped credential, two master's degrees -- in education from the College of Notre Dame, and in educational administration from the University of Santa Clara -- and a doctorate in educational leadership from Argosy University.

"Dr. Common's breadth of experience will be an asset to our district," Palo Alto district Superintendent Kevin Skelly said in a statement. With her administrative background, he added, "and her abundance of energy and friendly demeanor, I am confident that she will quickly learn the culture of the district and establish strong working relationships with the entire administrative team."

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