Former SUSD Superintendent John Kriekard dies

Posted 2/21/23

The man attributed by many with restoring trust and integrity to the Scottsdale Unified School District has died.

Dr. John Kriekard passed Monday Feb. 21 from a stroke.

Kriekard spent over …

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Former SUSD Superintendent John Kriekard dies


The man attributed by many with restoring trust and integrity to the Scottsdale Unified School District has died.

Dr. John Kriekard passed away Monday, Feb. 21.

Kriekard spent over half of his 40 year career with SUSD as an assistant principal and principal but it may be his last two years of his career, as superintendent, for which he may most be remembered for.

Kriekard served first as interim superintendent and then as superintendent after the Denise Birdwell scandal that mired the district in accusations of conflict of interest and cronyism.

He came out of his third retirement to right the ship in May 2018.

“I had calls from community people, from teachers, from administrators saying ‘please come back and help us out,’” Kiekard told the Scottsdale Independent in June 2020. “So I did and I was really fortunate that they chose to hire me but it was absolutely a decision more of the heart than of the head.”

Job vacancies for both teachers and administrators began to dwindle during Kriekard’s administration and the community expressed it’s confidence with the district by passing its maintenance and operations override renewal with a 61% majority in November 2019.

“Personally, I’ve tried to build my career on based on integrity and being student-focused,” he said in 2020. “If the increase in trust is an indication they believe in my integrity and believe in the student-focus that we’ve brought to district decisions, then I feel good about that.”

Kriekard was also superintendent in August 2018 when an overnight fire gutted a significant portion of Navajo Elementary School. Under Kriekard’s leadership, district officials and parents pitched in and got the school operating at a nearby campus that was largely used for storage in two days. It took two years but the district finally reopened Navajo in August 2020.

Kierkard also steered the district through the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic before current superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel took over.

Kierkard was also superintendent of Paradise Valley Unified School District.

Former SUSD Governing Board member Patty Beckman wrote in a social media post Monday, “I am very honored to have known Dr. Kriekard and call him a friend. I remember reading an article that described him having a 'steady hand' when leading SUSD. I could not agree more.

“While at times he made decisions people disagreed with, I can honestly tell you he was fair and kept students as his sole focus- always.”

On Feb. 20, Paradise Valley Unified School District also offered condolences on social media. The district wrote: "Today, Arizona lost an outstanding educator. We are saddened by the loss of Dr. John Kriekard, who served as Superintendent of Paradise Valley Unified School District for six years. He was nationally recognized for his innovative and outstanding leadership."