Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified selects Dr. Alex Cherniss as new superintendent

Following a nationwide search, the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District Board of Education has unanimously appointed Dr. Alex Cherniss as its new superintendent.

Dr. Cherniss, who will begin his new role pending final approval on April 18, previously served as superintendent of the high-performing Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District. He will succeed interim Superintendent Dr. Michael Matthews, who has led PYLUSD since July 2022.

Dr. Alex Cherniss

“It is an absolute honor and thrill to join the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District,” Dr. Cherniss said in a statement. “I have dedicated my professional career to helping kids succeed and amplifying student voice. I am committed to expanding parent and community engagement in PYLUSD, and I look forward to working with all of the teachers, principals and support staff to improve student achievement districtwide.” 

In his five-year term at Palos Verdes Unified, Dr. Cherniss made student advocacy a priority, according to Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified. During the pandemic, he focused pandemic-related state funding on student supports by providing free tutoring services, extra office hours and jump-start summer programs. 

Cherniss previously served as chief financial officer at the Los Angeles County Office of Education, where he managed the budgets of 80 school districts totaling over $14 billion. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and earned his doctorate from the USC Rossier School of Education, where he taught a doctoral class in school economics.

In 2018, he was nominated as Superintendent of the Year for Los Angeles County while leading the San Marino Unified School District.

“On behalf of the PYLUSD, we are excited to welcome Dr. Alex Cherniss to the district as Superintendent of Schools,” Board President Shawn L. Youngblood said. “Dr. Cherniss is a man of high character who shares the values of this board and our community. We believe Dr. Cherniss’ many years of experience will impact this district and student achievement.”

Cherniss began his educational career in the Beverly Hills Unified School District as a middle school math teacher and moved on to serve as a K-8 principal, then as a director of human resources and assistant superintendent of business services.

He lives in Los Alamitos with his wife, Liz, and his three young children, Finn, Leo and Harper.