San Raphael School Board Will Not Extend Superintendent’s Contract

The San Raphael Board of Education has decided to allow Superintendent Michael Watenpaugh’s contract to expire, meaning he will step down on June 30. The Feb. 11 vote was 3-2 and followed weeks of emails and public pleas from parents who want to see a change in leadership.

Board President Greg Knell, Vice President Maika Llorens-Gulati, and Linda Jackson voted against the one-year contract extension. Rachel Kertz and Natu Tuatagaloa voted in favor, lauding Watenpaugh’s accomplishments over the past 12 years as superintendent.

“I am so proud of the many successful initiatives and accomplishments that we as an SRCS community have achieved together to positively impact our students and families,” said Watenpaugh in a statement. “Serving as the superintendent for the past 12 years has been the highlight of my professional career and I am grateful to the Board of Education for providing me the opportunity to work on behalf of the students, families, teachers, staff and San Rafael community.”

The Marin Independent Journal outlines some of the complaints the Board has been hearing since December:

For weeks, parents have said at public meetings and in emails that Watenpaugh was falling short — missing meetings, absent for key events, failing to be engaged and dismissing parents’ concerns in social media — such as saying the protests were “a bunch of BS” and that the protesters were “a group of angry white women.” Some parents also asserted Watenpaugh discouraged people from speaking out through intimidation. Watenpaugh declined comment on the allegations.

Despite the decision, President Knell said the Board was grateful for Watenpaugh’s years of leadership. Watenpaugh, he added, “brought powerful solutions to the unceasing challenges required to educate all our students” during his tenure.

“As we begin the process to hire our next superintendent, we will be looking to find the best leader who can continue our path of innovation and excellence,” said Knell. “We will be reaching out to engage every sector of the SRCS community to help us define what we will need to continue the outstanding achievement we expect from San Rafael City Schools.”