Pajaro Valley Unified Fires and Rehires Superintendent
The Pajaro Valley Unified School District has abruptly fired — and then reinstated — its superintendent in a bizarre drama involving alleged death threats and a plea from actor Edward James Olmos.
Take a seat and let us explain.
In a surprise move on Jan. 27, PVUSD trustees voted to fire Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez. The 4-3 vote came after a closed-door session. Jennifer Holm, Maria Orozco, and Kim De Serpa voted not to terminate.
It’s not clear what motivated the Board’s decision. Rodriguez has held the position since 2016 and has racked up many accomplishments during her tenure. She was absent from the closed-session meeting and was not given a reason for her termination. In a tragic aside, The Pajaronian reported the vote took place one day after Rodriguez’s father died.
Some 200 people joined the virtual PVUSD Board meeting Friday night to express their displeasure with Rodriguez’s termination. Among them was actor Edward James Olmos, who credited Rodriguez with getting the district involved in his Youth Cinema Project.
“I’ve known Michelle for a long time,” Olmos said in a video for the Board. “She has my utmost respect and admiration.”
Board President Georgia Acosta tried to stop Olmos’ video from playing, but the message was clear. The Board ultimately voted to reconsider its decision. On Sunday night, it was announced that Rodriguez would be coming back as superintendent. The Board also chose a new president, replacing Acosta with Jennifer Holm.
Why did the Board change its mind? Two members who voted to rescind their votes, including Acosta, now say they did so because of death threats.
“I serve in this position as a community service to my community,” said Acosta. “However, I have to and always will put the health, safety, and well-being of my family as my first priority in my life. With that, I will be voting today to rescind my vote regarding the termination of the employment agreement with Dr. Rodriguez.”
It’s not every day an elected official admits to being intimidated into changing a vote. What on earth is going on at PVUSD?