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New Santa Monica-Malibu Schools Chief Announces 'Commitments'  

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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

January 13, 2017 -- Ben Drati, who began his job as the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District's (SMMUSD) new superintendent on January 1, announced several commitments in a recent welcome message to the community.

Among the eight items on the commitment list are "keep the interests of children as my highest priority and goal," "value and support the work of teachers (other staff as well as parents were also mentioned)," and "listen with empathetic ears and to look for and find those who may not feel like they have a voice."

He also included that he wants to be "a worthy ambassador for Santa Monica and Malibu to the outside world."

In his message, Drati said, "I want to commend the communities of Santa Monica and Malibu for not settling and daring to be greater than what you are now for the sake of all students."

Drati was appointed in November to be the official replacement for Sandra Lyon, who had left in July to take a superintendent position in Palm Springs ("Santa Monica-Malibu Schools Superintendent to Leave Post," May 3, 2016).

He comes from the Santa Barbara Unified School District, working there as assistant superintendent of secondary education since 2012 ("Drati Appointed Santa Monica-Malibu Schools Superintendent," November 4, 2016).

Drati was born in Uganda, fleeing with his family at age 10 from the African nation, which at the time was going through a civil war. He grew up in the Los Angeles area and received his higher education, including a doctorate in education, from Fresno State.

The general public will get a chance to see Drati in action for the first time next week on Thursday when the Board of Education has its first official meeting of the year. The board members met for a retreat this week.

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