Former San Bernardino City Unified School District Superintendent Harry “Doc” Ervin is recognized for having dedicated his career to ensuring equality and access to students of diverse backgrounds who are economically disadvantaged.
Former San Bernardino City Unified School District Superintendent Harry “Doc” Ervin is recognized for having dedicated his career to ensuring equality and access to students of diverse backgrounds who are economically disadvantaged. Credit: Illustration by Chris Allen, VOICE

S.E. Williams

In March 2021, the San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) Board of Education voted unanimously to appoint Harry “Doc” Ervin as Superintendent to fill the seat vacated by Dr. Dale Marsden.  Ervin assumed the leadership role in  July, 2021.

Ervin was the district’s first Black Superintendent and he assumed the role with a stellar reputation stemming from his long, accomplished and celebrated career. Within weeks of stepping into his new role,  however, things began to go terribly wrong. By May 2022, only nine months into his new position, Ervin was purportedly forced into an early retirement.

“Only armchair politicians are immune from committing mistakes. Errors are inherent in political action.”

Nelson Mandela

The Black Voice News and IE Voice covered Ervin’s journey with SBCUSD extensively, in a variety of articles and opinion pieces. Whether it was  a difference in ideology between Ervin and the Board, concerns over cronyism, or allegations by some parents that Ervin failed to safely adhere to COVID-19 protocols when schools were reopened as the pandemic waned, a relationship that began with promise and optimism, ended in bitter disagreement

In response, there were concerns that students – many too young to be aware – embroiled or involved in the crucible of political maneuvering, may pay the price for what occurred.

Former San Bernardino City Unified School District Superintendent of Schools Harry “Doc” Ervin. (source: bcsd.com).

When I learned recently that Ervin’s previous employer, Bakersfield City School District (BCSD), had recently announced inductees to its Hall of Fame and that Ervin was among the five inductees, I was reminded of potential opportunities our students may never benefit from as a result of Doc’s loss from SBCUSD.

The Bakersfield City School District Hall of Fame says it recognizes former students noted for their professional accomplishments and “community members who distinguished themselves through their service to the district”. According to reports, the program is meant to inspire BCSD students to achieve their goals through a life of strong purpose and value.

Ervin served as BCSD superintendent for five years, beginning in 2016, until he took the role with SBCUSD in 2021. Prior to that, he spent 25 years as an educator and administrator. 

Ervin, who spent his career championing equity and access to economically disadvantaged students from culturally diverse backgrounds, was also noted to have held district staff to high expectations 

In addition to his accomplished career in education, Ervin was inducted to the Hall of Fame for having “established curricular, instructional and operational systems and structures to provide system wide sustainability and support teaching and learning”.

Such acclaim makes me wonder what opportunities for greater success are being missed by SBCUSD students, teachers and administrators as a result of Ervin’s early and strained departure. We will never know.

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.

S.E. Williams

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and social justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Over the years Stephanie has reported for other publications in the inland region and Los Angeles and received awards from the California News Publishers Association for her investigative reporting and Ethnic Media Services for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. She also served as a Health Journalism Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com.