Cloverdale Unified School District superintendent resigns as of Feb. 1

The newly elected board president backs Superintendent Betha MacClain, citing MacClain’s “need to focus on family.” MacClain had been targeted by outspoken parents, with some demanding her resignation, for more than a year.|

Embattled Cloverdale Unified School District Superintendent Betha MacClain has turned in her resignation effective Feb. 1.

The district board released a letter to members of the community earlier this month announcing it had voted to accept her request to “part ways,” and thanking her for her “unwavering dedication to the students, staff, community, and our Board over the past two and a half years.”

MacClain did not reply to requests asking for comment.

Newly elected board President Ashley Lopus-White responded to a Press Democrat request for an interview with an emailed statement, saying the board “supports Superintendent MacClain in making the difficult decision to step away from her position to focus on her family right now.” No details were provided about the family concerns.

She said the board would now turn its attention to the process of identifying candidates to fill the position. Lopus-White did not respond to emailed questions asking what impact some community members’ concerns about MacClain’s leadership may have had on the board’s vote.

Before being hired in Cloverdale, MacClain, a resident of Sebastopol, was superintendent of the tiny kindergarten-sixth grade Two Rock School District in Petaluma for two years. Prior to that she was principal of Jack London Elementary School in Santa Rosa.

The board gave her a 5% raise last month.

The superintendent had been targeted by outspoken parents, with some demanding her resignation, for more than a year. It started with how she handled concerns about COVID-19 issues, including her emphasis on the need for students to get vaccinations when some opposed them.

But some parents’ anger increased after a popular Washington Middle School principal was put on paid leave in February.

In October, officials released a report by an investigator hired by the district to look into multiple allegations against Mark Lucchetti, including that he failed to properly report and investigate instances of alleged teacher misconduct.

The report concluded that there was sufficient evidence to support 10 allegations made by the district against Lucchetti , a 27-year administrator and teacher. Following a settlement between the district and Lucchetti , he resigned on Oct. 4.

MacClain was the subject of more parents’ ire at the end of the school year in June after a Washington student was attacked by a group of students, and the girl’s mother said she had called and warned the interim principal that the fight was going to happen.

In a video of the incident, three students were seen kicking the eighth grader in the head as she lay on the ground. The girl’s mother said she had to be hospitalized.

The parents’ contention was that since Lucchetti had left, student behavior had gotten out of control. They said there were too few yard supervisors on duty. Previous board President Jacque Garrison responded at the time, citing an increase in students’ misbehavior since their return to school following the pandemic.

The board issued a community letter saying it was evaluating its processes and procedures, including the appointment of a task force, to avoid a repeat of the fight.

Jessica Chavez, the parent of the girl who was beaten up, said she was unhappy with her dealings with MacClain after the incident. She added that she believes the district should have parted ways with MacClain months ago.

“I think the board should have made that decision long ago,” Chavez said. “I told her (MacClain) she needed to provide more staff (field supervisors) immediately. She said she had enough staff, … and talked about options for transferring my daughter (to another district), an honor student.

“She didn’t listen to us; she kept saying the schools are fine,” she added. “I feel like our schools have never been so out of control.”

Despite parents’ contention that students’ need for discipline had increased, the board said in its letter that these claims didn’t bear that out.

Another parent, Vicente Duarte, whose youngest child graduated from Cloverdale High School in June, had complained about a problem with unruly students at the school, and lay the blame on MacClain and the board.

“I notice this year the gap between the community and our school district has grown bigger. A lot of things that have happened … were embarrassing as a community,” he said. “We struggle as a school district to recruit and maintain staff. I hope the next person who comes in bridges that gap.”

Lopus-White said MacClain “will no doubt secure a professional position that will optimize her vision, creativity and fierce passion for public education*” when she seeks employment.

*Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to correct a typographical error in a quote.

You can reach Staff Writer Kathleen Coates at 707-521-5209 or

Kathleen Coates

Windsor and Cloverdale, The Press Democrat 

As someone who grew up in a small town, I enjoy covering what's happening in Windsor and Cloverdale, which are growing in their own unique ways.  I delve into issues by getting to know people and finding out what’s going on in the community. I also pay attention to animal welfare and other issues that affect Sonoma County.

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