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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Two candidates for superintendent of the Woodland Hills School District were introduced to the public at a meeting on Monday night.

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One of them may take over a district that’s been dealing with many controversies.

While they may not be the final two contenders, the candidates were vying for support. And both had a message for everyone in the district, from students to teachers to parents and taxpayers.

“I think anyone that leads this school district, since the school district is so diverse, they need to be able to understand students across the board,” said student Alexis Davis.

“The community has gone through several tragedies. Having a strong leader come in to be able to help the staff and faculty better support our student is going to help support the district in the long run,” teacher Erik Meredith said.

The first candidate is Kelley Castlin-Gacutan, who is the founder of a company and the former superintendent of schools in Birmingham, Alabama.

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“I think it would be best to really have more conversations around that issue with those involved. I think it is really, really important at this critical point to listen,” said Castlin-Gacutan.

Woodland Hills School District, superintendent candidates, Kelley Castlin-Gacutan, James Philip Harris Jr.

Kelley Castlin-Gacutan and James Philip Harris Jr. (Photo Credit: KDKA)

The other candidate is James Philip Harris Jr., who is the superintendent at schools in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

Both met with smaller groups of teachers and students

“They both feel not respected, not valued, and not listened to. The students said the exact same thing. So, to me, it was more like a dysfunctional relationship where you needed someone to bridge that gap,” said Harris.

It’s an embattled school system with challenges, but the board of education is focused on stakeholders.

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“We’re really interested in what our stakeholders want us to have in a superintendent,” said Jamie Glasser, the school board president. “So, we wanted to have an open process. We committed to that at the beginning and we’re following through with that today.”