September 8, 2008
New Haven Schools Chief Resigns Suddenly
By Linh Tat
UNION CITY -- Superintendent Pat Jaurequi, in an unexpected announcement, said she will be leaving the New Haven school district for another job.
Her decision prompted the New Haven school board to call a special meeting Wednesday night to discuss her replacement. The outcome of that meeting was not known by press time.
Jaurequi's departure means that all three Tri-City school districts, as well as Ohlone College, will start the 2008-09 academic year with new leadership. The top administrators in Fremont, Newark and at Ohlone all retired in June.
Jaurequi, who arrived in New Haven in 2004 and whose contract was extended this spring to 2012, said she had not been seeking a new job but was recruited.
The new district -- whose name she declined to disclose because that school board has not yet approved her contract -- is "a much larger district" than New Haven and is one that's closer to her family, Jaurequi said.
"I wasn't looking to leave. I do receive calls from time to time (from other districts), but when this position came to me a few weeks ago, it seemed a good fit, both professionally and personally," she said.
School board President Kevin Harper said that in addition to hiring a consultant to conduct a search for a permanent superintendent, he hoped the board would name an interim superintendent by the end of Wednesday's special meeting.
"Our job on the board is to continue the great direction that Dr. Jaurequi has set for us over the last few years ... (and) the collaboration in the community that we've been building," Harper said. "We've got a great group of leaders in other places within the system that are doing great work. Our job, as the board, is to find the right person for (the superintendent's) seat, and we will do that."
Since Jaurequi's arrival in New Haven, she's seen her share of fans and critics.
The superintendent has faced harsh criticism for changing bell schedules and school boundaries and for her recommendation that the board close Cabello Elementary and Barnard-White Middle schools because of declining enrollment.
Others believe she has improved the district's relationship with the community.
When Jaurequi , the district had yet to settle a contract with teachers, and tensions ran high.
But a contract was reached seven months after she joined New Haven, and the latest teachers contract was reached in a comparatively short time.
Under Jaurequi's tenure, the district also adopted a strategic plan that calls for 85 percent of its students to reach test-score proficiency by 2010.
"Serving as superintendent in New Haven has been both a privilege and a distinct pleasure for me," Jaurequi said, emphasizing that the district's achievements have been the result of collaborative work among all stakeholders.
"We've come so far. It's with very mixed feelings that I leave this work. My hope will be that my departure will be nothing more than a bump in the road ... It's not about Pat. It really is the collective 'we' that I am most proud of."
Reach Linh Tat at 510-353-7010 or [email protected] Read her blog postings at www.ibabuzz.com/tricitybeat.
Originally published by Linh Tat, The Argus.
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