Three top officials are leaving Santa Rosa City Schools as the school year ends, creating vacancies in positions considered key to a series of academic and discipline changes the district is pursuing.
George Valenzuela, the district's attorney, is resigning his post after more than 16 years in the district; chief technology officer Rainer Wachalovsky is retiring after more than six years; and Anastasia Zita, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction in secondary schools, was released from her position effective June 30.
A fourth official, Gail Eagan, retired from her post as assistant superintendent of elementary level curriculum and instruction in December and has been working on an interim basis on the establishment of the district's new dual-immersion Spanish language charter school.
The changes come at a critical time for Sonoma County's largest school district as the two curriculum directors are expected to oversee the dramatic overhaul of what is taught in California classrooms as part of the implementation of common core standards.
Technology is also expected to play a key role in the how lessons are delivered — adding an extra element of urgency to finding a new chief technology officer.
Santa Rosa City Schools is also examining its past practices related to suspensions and expulsions after the district was found to have the fourth highest per capita suspension rate in the state among larger school districts.
The school district attorney plays a key role in implementing district discipline policy.
First-year Superintendent Socorro Shiels said the departures are a natural evolution that is occurring across industries as Sonoma County's workforce ages.
“Healthy organizations just have to plan on that,” she said.
“There are exciting opportunities in front of us and we are excited for the right people to join us,” she said.
Sonoma County's largest school district is in Year 3 of Program Improvement sanctions under the federal No Child Left Behind law, but none of the departures are related to the district's status, Shiels said.