Meet Dr. James Elsasser

Dr. James Elsasser, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
Dr. James Elsasser is the Superintendent of the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD). He began his tenure with the district on January 4, 2021. With a career in public education spanning more than 30 years, Dr. Elsasser remains committed to excellence in education, and is passionate about preparing students with myriad opportunities to thrive now and in the future through rigorous instruction, the integration of technology, and cultivating the development of the whole child.

Dr. Elsasser’s career in public education includes both teaching and administrative experience. He was previously the superintendent of the Claremont Unified School District for eight and one-half years, and comes to PYLUSD after serving in executive roles with the Anaheim Elementary School District, Los Alamitos Unified School District, and Downey Unified School District.

At Claremont Unified, Dr. Elsasser undertook a multitude of strategic initiatives, community partnerships, and professional development activities that positively impacted student learning and earned unprecedented recognition for the district. He was also named Region 15 Superintendent of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) in 2017 for his visionary leadership and student-centered work.

Before Claremont Unified, Dr. Elsasser served as assistant superintendent of human resources for Anaheim City School District, and director of classified personnel and special projects in Los Alamitos Unified School District. He was principal of Oak Middle School in Los Alamitos, and assistant principal of East Middle School in Downey Unified School District where he began his career as a music teacher.

Dr. Elsasser earned his bachelor’s degree in music from Azusa Pacific University, master’s degree in education from Azusa Pacific University, and his doctorate in educational leadership from University of Southern California (USC). He has a strong background in human resources with extensive experience in employee relations, contract negotiations, and the creation and implementation of a comprehensive professional development program for teachers, classified staff, and management.
Dr. Elsasser is an active member of several professional organizations including the Education Research Development Institute (ERDI); National Center for Education Research and Technology (NCERT); Suburban School Superintendents (SSS); Association of California School Administrators (ACSA); the Dean’s Superintendents’ Advisory Group for the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California, and a member of the Southern California Superintendents group.

Outside of work, Dr. Elsasser lives locally in Anaheim Hills with his wife, Lori, and their three children, Corey, Brooke, and Nicholas.