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Stockton Unified nominates Michelle Rodriguez as new superintendent

Pending a Board of Trustees vote, Rodriguez will lead Stockton's largest school district ending a 3-month-long nationwide search.

STOCKTON, Calif. — Central Coast superintendent Dr. Michelle Rodriguez has been tapped to lead California's 17th largest school district pending a school board vote, the Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) announced Friday.

Rodriguez most recently served seven years as the Superintendent of Pajaro Valley Unified School District in Watsonville. The SUSD Board of Trustees will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday to vote on Rodrioguez's nomination.

"Consistency is really important to us right now, it is something we haven't experienced in a really long time," said School Board President AngelAnn Flores. "That was something that we focused on and that we wanted to ensure that all candidates understood, that we are looking for longevity and somebody who is going to be invested into our Stockton community."

The nomination ends a 5-month-long nationwide search for a new leader. District officials say 25 people applied for the job, and an outside firm whittle the list down to seven candidates.

"We complied a list of qualifications and characteristics. She met most of the qualifications we were looking for," said Kenetha Stevens, SUSD board member. "Innovative visionary, someone who understood data and achievement and also someone who understood budget."

For just under a year, longtime SUSD teacher Dr. Traci Miller has held the title of Interim Superintendent after the former interim superintendent Dr. Francine Baird returned to her position as Superintendent of Student Support Services in August.

Baird was appointed interim superintendent after former superintendent John Ramirez Jr. abruptly resigned from the post days ahead of the release of a scathing grand jury report, citing a need to care for his elderly parents.

Ramirez is still receiving a $273,750 paycheck from the district each month due to a clause in his resignation agreement that allowed him his full salary for one year following the resignation.

If approved by the board Tuesday, Rodriguez will take the helm at the district during a tumultuous time amid an investigation by the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office, a lawsuit by the family of a teen stabbed to death on a school campus and in the wake of the resignation of several top business officials.

In March 2021, ABC affiliate KSBW reported that for unknown reasons, board members voted to remove Rodriguez from office as Superintendent of Pajaro Valley Unified School District, but reinstated her days later following threats.

In a Facebook post Friday, the Pajaro Valley Unified School District announced Rodriguez's departure from the Santa Cruz County school district.

Watch more SUSD coverage from ABC10: Stockton Unified could face $30M budget deficit, according to Grand Jury

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