Cotati-Rohnert Park District superintendent announces retirement
Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Superintendent Mayra Perez, who led the district through COVID-19 and a six-day teacher strike, announced her retirement Monday.
Perez sent out a message to parents and staff through the ParentSquare communication portal stating that after decades in education, she plans to retire Oct. 31.
“It's a hard decision,” Perez said in an interview with the Press Democrat Tuesday. “I'm going to miss the work but I know that I'll find ways to get back to the community.”
Originally set to serve a three-year term through June 2023, the school board had recently extended her contract to 2025.
The Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District, Sonoma County’s third largest, has 6,449 students enrolled this year, according to the California Department of Education.
Perez began her role in July 2020, during the pandemic, aiding the transition to virtual learning.
She also successfully adopted new English and Math curriculum, establishing a Virtual Learning Academy and providing support for vulnerable students, said Board President Michelle Wing in a message to the district’s community.
“Dr. Perez has guided our District through unprecedented challenges while always keeping student success and achievement at the forefront,” Wing said.
Perez said her proudest achievements include her work improving literacy and creating dual immersion programs. She hopes to continue to work with bilingual kids and teaching reading in a volunteer basis during her retirement.
Perez’ tenure was not without controversy, however. In March 2022, more than 300 teachers went on strike for six days over wage disputes. In June 2022, the Rohnert Park Cotati Educators Association notified the school board that more than 92% of teachers supported a no-confidence vote against Perez. They cited a lack of engagement with parents, faculty and the lack of plans for dealing with staff shortages in critical areas, like special education.
Perez said the biggest thing she has learned as a district leader is that “There will always be distractors that take us off focus, but we need to be remain dedicated and focused on our students.”
She said the biggest distractions to children’s education she’s dealt with included school politics and COVID-19.
The Board of Trustees also announced that they will begin the search to fill her position in closed session Tuesday, allowing Perez and the new leader time to transition.
“We have executive executive management leaders that are amazing,” Perez said. “It's just been an honor and pleasure to work with all of them. And they have the capacity to continue the amazing work that we've begun together.”
You can reach Staff Writer Alana Minkler at 707-526-8531 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @alana_minkler.
The world is filled with stories that inspire compassion, wonder, laughs and even tears. As a Press Democrat reporter covering education, it’s my goal to give others a voice to share these stories.
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