Barstow schools mark day 1 under Superintendent Swearingen as longtime leader retires

Deanna Swearingen joined Barstow Unified School District as chief business official in early 2020 and became the K-12 system's new superintendent on Feb. 1, 2023.
Deanna Swearingen joined Barstow Unified School District as chief business official in early 2020 and became the K-12 system's new superintendent on Feb. 1, 2023.

The Barstow Unified School District has introduced a new superintendent, with its former leader retiring this week after more than a decade at the helm of the K-12 system.

Deanna Swearingen, who joined BUSD as its chief business official in February 2020, began what's currently set to be a three-and-a-half-year tenure as the Barstow school system's superintendent on Wednesday, one day after the planned retirement of now-former Superintendent Jeff Malan took effect.

The BUSD Board of Trustees voted unanimously at its Oct. 25 meeting to appoint Swearingen — whose name at the time was Deanna Dibble — as its future superintendent under a contract that starts on Feb. 1 this year and ends June 30, 2026, according to the meeting minutes.

Swearingen says her favorite thing about Barstow students is their resilience, according to a BUSD press release.

"Many of them have overcome challenges that students and kids in other areas have never experienced," Swearingen stated in the release. "Our kids get up every day and come to school and do everything they can to become educated and do better in life."

Malan's retirement date of Jan. 31 ends a more than 32-year run with the Barstow school district, including the last 12 years as superintendent. It's the highest-paid position on BUSD's payroll, according to public data gathered by Transparent California, which lists total pay and benefits during the calendar year 2021 at $222,000 for Malan and $180,000 for Swearingen.

In her prior role as chief business official, Swearingen reported directly to Malan and oversaw B USD's Business Services Department divisions such as "Nutrition Services, Facilities, Maintenance & Operations (and) Accounting and Purchasing," according to an online job description.

Swearingen was integral in BUSD's response to COVID-19, the district's press release states, "ensuring education continued for the students of Barstow."

"She assisted in assembling the paper learning packets for students," the release states, and "oversaw the distribution of pre-packaged meals so none of the District’s 6,000-plus students would go hungry."

Before joining the Barstow district amid the early onset of COVID in February 2020, Swearingen spent many years as the business manager of the nearby Helendale School District.

She began her education career as a mentor teacher managing an independent study center in Hesperia and spent seven years "in the classroom and serving as a director of various student programs before moving into administration," the release states.

She holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology from California Baptist University and a master's degree in education for school business leadership with a certificate in school management negotiations from Pennsylvania-based Wilkes University, according to the release.

Charlie McGee covers California’s High Desert for the Daily Press, focusing on the city of Barstow and its surrounding communities. He is also a Report for America corps member with The GroundTruth Project, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the U.S. and worldwide. McGee may be reached at 760-955-5341 or Follow him on Twitter @bycharliemcgee.

This article originally appeared on Victorville Daily Press: Barstow schools mark day 1 under new Superintendent Swearingen