The decision to appoint a new interim-superintendent wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t unanimous, but the Board of Trustees for the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District pulled it off Tuesday in the library at Tech Middle School.
The new man’s name is Tony Roehrick. He comes to Rohnert Park by way of the Rincon Valley Union School District where he served for 3 years as their superintendent. That wasn’t Roehrick’s first posting, either. Before then he was superintendent of the Cabrillo Unified School District, and before that he was superintendent of the Bellevue Union School District.
All told, Roehrick has almost 15 years of experience from schools all across Sonoma County. That’s quite a resume, and one of the chief reasons the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District chose him to fill in for the departure of their current superintendent, Robert Haley.
“It’s a very stable administration—great teachers all around. There’s some governance problems on the school board, and if those are resolved I think the school district will be in pretty great shape,” Haley said. “People look at that—I mean, certainly a superintendent does—because you want to work with a stable board, a board that can come together. It doesn’t mean that they have to agree, but you want to believe they can all come together in the best interest of the district.”
Haley has served as superintendent of the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District since 2011. San Diego stole him away, and Haley’s term of service ends on Nov. 1st, which is the same day Roehrick is set to begin his eight-month stint as interim-superintendent. That date leaves a little bit to be desired since many of the seats on the Board of Trustees are up for grabs.
The rushed process left a bad taste in the mouths of trustees Leffler Brown and Timothy Nonn, both of whom voted against Roehrick’s appointment.
“I didn’t have three people to choose from—I had one,” Brown said. “I didn’t get to do a background on him, that was done I don’t think was very thorough. I would have rather waited.”
By far though it was Nonn who expressed the most vehement displeasure at the appointment.
“There are two ways that school boards can go about finding superintendents. One is an open, public process, and one is a closed process. This was a closed door process,” Nonn said. “By offering this guy an eight month contract at $200,000, which is high. If a new board comes in December they’re hamstringing them because they’re stuck with this guy.”
Unfortunately the timing of Haley’s departure is non-negotiable. Without Roehrick, as of Nov. 1st the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District will no longer have a superintendent. A new one can only be appointed in a regular board meeting, which happens once a month. The time between meetings can create a bit of a gap, and a superintendent has quite a few responsibilities—none of which go away just because the office holder does.
“This is what we’re elected to do. Our only job is to hire and oversee the superintendent,” Trustee Marc Orloff said. “In order to make decisions, the superintendent acts in our interest, and if we don’t have an administrator then we have to make those decisions. That means a lot of special meetings. Most of us have full time jobs. We have other employment outside of the district. We’re not getting rich doing this.”
With dissent or without, Roehrick will be the new superintendent for the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District. His term of service will carry the district through the rest of the 2018-2019 school year.
That much is set in stone.
Choosing a permanent replacement, however, will be the responsibility of the new Board of Trustees born from the Nov. election.