Pandora Mike, the district's current director of curriculum, instruction, and staff support, interviewed for the position Thursday and began Monday. The district interviewed one other candidate.
Mike now is the assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and staff development, a position that was advertised on the district's web site during winter break. It considered only internal applicants.
Mike was a director, one of six positions created to replace the assistant superintendents, for a year and a half. Before that, she was a principal for nine years, and a teacher for 12. Mike has a master's degree in educational leadership from Doane College in Crete, Neb., and a bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of New Mexico.
She has taught at both Diné College and Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., and her own children have attended school in Shiprock.
One of her sons earlier this year was disciplined after distributing drugs at his high school campus in Shiprock.
"It's a family matter, and the district is respecting that. It has no bearing at all on her position or what she does," district spokesman James Preminger said Monday.
Mike was on sick leave Monday and was unavailable for comment.
"She's got to be one of the most knowledgeable curriculum educators in the state," said district Superintendent Don Levinski on Monday.
She will be the only assistant superintendent and will receive a bump in her annual salary from about $93,000 to $97,000.
"The new assistant superintendent position oversees schools and also curriculum. It is at least twice the responsibility on paper, a lot more in reality," Preminger said. "The director of curriculum position was over curriculum only. That position, which oversaw the creation of curriculum, did not have the authority to implement it in the schools. That lack of authority has been a noticeable problem."
The assistant superintendent positions most recently were held by Sharon Jensen, now principal of Naaba Ani Elementary School in Bloomfield, and Tim Kienitz, now principal of Farmington High School.
Both left their positions in May 2011 after the district fired former Superintendent Gregg Epperson and replaced him with Levinski. Levinski restructured the administration by creating the director positions.
Levinski had planned on demoting Jensen to a principal's position, but she resigned in May 2011 after Levinski announced his restructuring plan. Levinski demoted Kienitz to the principal of Shiprock High School, a position which Kienitz left last year for his current position at Farmington High School.
Both Jensen and Kienitz were told they could keep their assistant superintendents' pay until their contracts ended, Preminger said.
"Superintendent Don Levinski had the authority to hire his own directors," Preminger said.
Jensen currently is suing the school district in federal court for discrimination and wrongful demotion, both of which forced her to leave the district, according to court documents.
Mike's new position replaces her old position, though five director positions will remain: the directors of academic support, administration and student success, human resources, operations, and finance. The directors make between $87,000 and $94,500, depending on their position.
Mike may be in charge of the evaluation and supervision of the director of administration and student success, currently Phil Kasper, though the superintendent has not yet decided.
The goal is to make student success the greatest priority, Preminger said, and ensure that all schools are headed toward success.