News
August 20, 2019
link to facebook link to twitter
More Stories
First day of school and new friends Home-based learning on the rise A slow and painful wait for a downtown RP Council looks at serious close-to-home issues Cotati City Council of Aug. 13 New Column Gun violence in the U.S. and globally Join CASA of So. Co.’s commitment to helping victims of child abuse Passenger killed fleeing crash Pesticide residue consumed by infants and children ‘Stuff the van’ with school supplies Accordion Festival Promotions in the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety Homelessness spikes in RP Home delivery changes Veterans’ housing to open in 2020 Fresh faces on the CRPUSD board 73rd Miss Sonoma County competition held at Spreckels Straus Family Creamery moving to RP TAG building grand opening Tech High School celebrates 20 years Newsom’s vision “cradle to career” RP Downtown project underway Schools, facilities and bonds: Plans but no money DUI driver crashes into 7-1 Teen arrested for shooting at RP RP votes to restrict fireworks Girls explore STEM possibilities at Tinker Academy Bad air quality cancels sports Official election winners as projected by the VOICE  RP swears in new council member 2018 local stories which made history ArtStart brings art to the RP Senior Center Holocaust piano now in Cotati CRPUSD seeking a new superintendent Superintendent search begins Cotati Council moves ahead Planning Commission approves hotel DUI driver arrested after collision on RP Exp Fun family Christmas events in Cotati Cougars’ season comes to a tearful sad conclusion CalFresh clients get Feb. benefits early Rohnert Park Station Ave. update Cuts suggested for school district The “Healing Wall” comes to Sonoma County Cotati memorializes victims Rohnert Park considers firework restrictions CHP to check motorcycle safety in local area Cotati honors and appreciates Third DUI driver arrested in RP in three days Dr. Dominguez and Hawkins named as director and co-director for Hanna Institute University Elementary School to host Maker World at SSU Animal Shelter League of RP receives grant Cotati Council reshuffles seats Help save lives by donating blood New laws on purchasing and concealing handguns Fencing in Sonoma County School district leaders tackle 1.9m deficit School district seeking new superintendent Cotati protests CASA compact School district balances budget More high density in Rohnert Park Put down your phone April is distracted driving awareness month SSU Police make arrest in sexual assault case CRPUSD district’s good news in May Our words are not enough: Educators call for action The Community Voice endorses candidates DA’s office awarded DUI Prosecution Grant Rohnert Park kid joins TCU El Camino graduates Rohnert Park Council says we don’t need another agency Rancho students excel in Poetry Out Loud  SC public safety heroes of the year Don’t drive with an open container Traffic concerns top RP survey SSU Equestrian looks to go national Brace yourself for mosquitos Station Avenue project An offer has been made and accepted on Rohnert Park’s corporate yard SMART to offer free rides... Man dies in custody Frightful, fun, free Halloween activities Cougars crush Ukiah Election projected winners November 6, 2018  Sonoma Clean Power offers no-cost energy upgrades Rancho advances to semifinals RP’s n­ew Director of Public Safety A stand-off with barricaded, suicidal woman ends safely in RP RP has a new director of public safety Mackenzie leaves SMART RP officers spent Sat. car chasing A shimmer of hope against the angry heavy sky SSU to host North Bay Women of Color conference Rancho’s TAG building, now a reality Mayors of So Co write angry letter Dodd’s college student food bill passes Rohnert Park caregiver arrested Sheriff’s canine apprehends convicted felon RPPS investigating sexual assault Public invited to give input on Downtown RP Site School board candidates voice opinions Woman stabbed on west side of RP LandPaths connects people to protected land Tech High Girl's Soccer Undefeated champions! AG Becerra issues consumer alert on price gouging in fire-affected communities Learn to docent at the SSU Fairfield Osborn Preserve New signs point in the right direction Where are the ski lifts? Is Cotati being targeted? New alcohol fees for Rohnert Park Sonoma State president testifies for tax relief for disaster victims Fixing Cotati’s roads RP driver identified Burglary suspect found with firearms Urban growth boundary benefits State Farm property steams forward to Station Avenue Scrappers Steal Win RP Foundation issues grant Cotati allows second dispensary New residential building lands approved In Singapore Strait aboard a missile destroyer PG&E has a prediction model USCIS presents free training on how to apply for citizenship RP investigates new site for Corp. Yard Two arrested in RP motel for mail theft  Is Juuling the new norm? Cotati considers $15 min. wage No criminal charges filed against PG&E in northern Ca. wildfires  RP decides on west side Vintage race cars on Sonoma raceway track May CalFresh month celebration So. Co. Behavioral Health and Health Services in the county jail Rancho Cotate Band fundraiser BBQ Jessica Holman: Thirty-five years of Rancho Spirit Titans crush Mustangs Station Avenue gets final approval Cotati Council reviews trash plan Baseball League receives donation from local motorcycle club Cotati Police Chief Parish swears in new officer Garber A Sunday afternoon with retired football players Injury collision closes Golf Course Dr. Giving Kids Smiles in Rohnert Park Neighborhood watch meeting scheduled New Executive Director at SSU Cotati sees its first homicide in 24 years New interim superintendent Krispy Kreme Doughnuts comes to Rohnert Park  Cougars blow past Gauchos  Rohnert Park honors its Veterans and Servicemen CHP reminds all of increased crimes Cougars beat Bulldogs More than 276,000 Dreamers have renewed DACA White receives Matt Walsh Memorial RP and Sunday festivities SSU fraternity banned for five years Name correction: Grand Jury report on SoCo jail system Sonoma County Fair reviews safety protocols Cotati Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest Rancho crushes Analy CA Homemaker Association needs volunteers Active duty honorees at the RP Veterans Day program Santa now knows her secret CPI receives funding to offer counseling in schools Caltrans works toward decarbonizing California transportation The Rancho Cotati Rotary Club hosts Humanitarian Award dinner SSU and SCOE offer high school internship Illegal robocalls and spoofing RP’s new interim police chief Big changes to big project in Rohnert Park A possibility for Snyder Lane to have four lanes soon Rohnert Park road updates Sheriff’s Detectives arrest SR man after controlled delivery of ecstasy pills. Cotati comes out against CASA Llamadas ilegales y spoofing Music alive in Cotati Call to action in Ca. Penngrove Community Church celebrates 120 years Cotati approves tree lighting City of Cotati has apartment housing parking problems Operators ordered to pay for false advertising violations Becerra urges Ca. businesses resources to help prevent human trafficking Possible change to parking rules Enroll in Transportation Security Administration Elder abuse rising in So Co U10 Cal Ripken champions say Aloha Impersonating pharmacists Students at University Elementary discussing the labyrinth Rohnert Park City Council Candidates NHTSA reminds motorists to drive sober this season Cotati’s code of conduct School board follows its policy Free school supplies Correction to the July 26 issue R P Foundation gives grants to NOAH and Petaluma Bounty Summit State Bank annual report FEMA awards Sonoma Water grant RP moves to curb false alarms Doggone hot days are here! Warnings weren’t enough! SR theft suspect caught after lengthy chase March for the blind highlights need for more accessible sidewalks Cougar to Bear — Simmons’ new pelt SRJC picks up local quarterback The Cougars defeat the Jaguars at homecoming New laws take effect Jan. 1 Boards approve plan to offset proposed groundwater fee Technology High School construction on schedule Groundwater sustainability fee adopted in Santa Rosa Plain Rohnert Park City Council all about safety Penngrove wastewater pipeline overflows Kids and firefighters compete in RP RP local, Petri Alva, 14, a nationally recognized athlete SSU named one of the best universities Verity is hiring to work with survivors RP City Council, not business as usual A young child making a big difference Cotati’s first homicide in 24 years SweetPea celebrates 31 years Seawolves serve up a victory Students almost ready for kindergarten Would you make a great foster parent? Grand Jury recommends improvements for So. Co. Water City of Cotati switches to 100% renewable electricity I’m ready, bring ‘em on! Cardinals rout Cougars SSI and SSP recipients eligible for CalFresh benefits Five vehicle crash shuts down Golf Course Dr. Happenings at Cotati City Council Trades Intro Program (TIP) leads to career RP City Council: from safety to striping How to help victims of wildfires Polynesia celebrated at annual Pacific Islander Festival Fire storm anniversary New fire station gets final direction Undercover operation identifies prostitution at local massage parlors Red flags fly at all fire stations during “Red Flag” warnings L J principal promises open door policy Plan approved for Station Ave. park Football in full swing, 3rd win Arrests and charges target Apple stores Cotati fills Planning Commission The long summer grinds Alert resident foiled attempted burglary of neighbor’s home All about the roads Annie Rasmussen Celebration of Life School district set to begin new year Wrong way bicyclist rides into path of SMART train City, county reach agreement with Homeless Advocates Revisiting those who lost it all: October wildfire victims still on the road to recovery Rohnert Park residents awarded law degrees School Year 2019-2020 for free and reduced-price meals Cattle drive comes to SR SMART celebrates a year of service RP Public Safety report card Joint Legislative Wine Committee to meet at SSU Ca. Dept. of Justice announces ammunition regulations Fatal bicycle vs. vehicle collision Penngrove native set for amazing voyage Cotati votes opposition to oil leases DMV offices will close for half day Social Security – Care and Beware SC neighborhood sues illegal pot grower Reckless vehicle ends in DUI arrest Do you know the relationship between low impact development and water quality? Water Conservation Car washes and water waste Equifax provides $600 million in consumer restitution Penngrove grassfire destroys buildings Cotati Accordion Festival still a hit after 28 years RP residents provide input in police chief search Forum hosted by WLV for RP City Council candidates Stray sways the crowd Showing off rope tricks Supply giveaways lend a hand to families Police officers inspect inside of car Lowerys help with campaign Yes on Measure W will keep fire stations open Skating during Cotati Kids Day parade RP to host community forum for public safety director search Emergency Alert System Test Sept. 10 & 12 Spreckels and Alchemia connects community Vehicle crashes into house It wasn’t an easy fight but Rancho wins again RP Safety Dept. climbs in remembrance of 9/11/18 Suicide leading cause of death in youths Back to school for Rohnert Park and Cotati Another tough break for roller derby PG&E to conduct inspections by helicopter in Sonoma County RP waits to make update to emergency alert system Cougars slay Dragons Deputy saves overdosing man using department-issued Narcan Third pedestrian struck by SMART train Enjoying ribs Rohnert Park’s Black Blear Diner gets sued Little ones with big Polynesian dancing spirit Sidewalk repair gets big break from City of RP RP Health Center celebrates anniversary Imitating major leaguers Rohnert Park waiting for approval for canine program

Watenpaugh returns to lead CRPUSD

  • Michael Watenpaugh, the interim superintendent for the Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District. Photo by Robert Grant

By: Lanny Lowery
August 2, 2019

A profound silence characterized Cotati-Rohnert Park’s superintendent search since the eleventh hour bow out of the selected candidate, who, for personal reasons, chose not to sign the contract on June 11, 2019.  Since that time the school board appointed Julie Synyard and Robert Marical to assume the duties of the superintendent for the time being and, perhaps, until July 1, 2020.

On Wednesday, June 24, the school board met to discuss hiring an Interim Superintendent.  The board agenda, sent out to recipients, offered two clues.  The board would discuss a one-word topic, “Superintendent” in closed session.  Then it would reconvene to public session and covering another topic, “Employment of Dr. Michael Watenpaugh as Interim Superintendent beginning July 1, 2019 through November 30, 2020.”

And the board followed the agenda precisely.  When it returned to public session, there was no public comment or board discussion.  Tim Nonn made the motion that Watenpaugh be hired and Chrissa Gillies seconded the motion.  Jennifer Wiltermood had the dissenting vote as the other four members voted to hire this superintendent.  

Michael Watenpaugh, no stranger to the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District, served as superintendent for four years between 2003 and 2007 and then he was hired by a larger district, San Rafael City Schools.  He served there for twelve years.

San Rafael offered some background information about him while he held that post: “Dr. Michael Watenpaugh is the Superintendent of San Rafael City Schools.  He oversees all district leadership including:  Human Resources, Curriculum and Instruction, Food Service, Information Technology, Special Education, PR/Communication, Business Services and Maintenance/Operations.”

San Rafael with eight elementary schools, two middle schools and three high schools somewhat resembles the Cotati-Rohnert Park district.

About his background, San Rafael reported, “Dr. Watenpaugh has been a classroom teacher, Assistant Principal, K-5 Principal, Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent.”

Watenpaugh impressed the school district with his accomplishments: “For the past eight years, his courageous, strategic actions to raise expectations and close the achievement gap have transformed San Rafael City Schools.  Student achievement gains are clear on both district and school wide basis.  Dr. Watenpaugh has established new partnerships and collaborations with local, state and national non-profit foundations.”

Some of his achievements in San Rafael include “Early Success in Schools” funded by Marin Community Foundation for $1.2m, “Transformational Schools” also funded by the same group for $225k and “Community Schools Planning Grant” supported by United Way of the Bay Area for $35k.

Watenpaugh earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Ecology from the University of California at Irvine in 1981.  The next year he gained his Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential.  He was awarded a Master’s Degree in School Leadership from the University of Laverne in 1986.  In 1990 he earned an Administrative Services Credential in Education from San Francisco State University.  And in 2005 he received a Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership from the University of Laverne.

He then served as a classroom teacher from 1982 to 1987 in the Capistrano Unified School District.  During that time, he also was a Mentor Teacher and a Teaching Assistant Principal.  For the next two years, he was an Assistant Principal and Summer School Coordinator.

He worked in Marin County for the following thirteen years.  In San Rafael, he served as an Elementary School Principal for a year and a half.  Then he was Middle School Principal in Novato for three years.  From 1994 to 1999, he was Director of Personnel Services for Novato Unified School District.  And for the next four years he was Assistant Superintendent in the same district.

In July of 2003, he became Superintendent of Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District.  During his four-year tenure, he became known for his approachability, his support of teachers and academics, and his ability to lead smoothly working through  concerns of parents, teachers and the community.

Special awards presented to Watenpaugh include Educator of the Year in 2001 by the Novato Chamber of Commerce, Sonoma Superintendent of the Year in 2005 by Sonoma County School Administrators Association and Marin County Educator of the Year in 2013 by Marin County School Boards Association and Marin County Office of Education.

Two former Rohnert Park Educator Association Presidents have high regard for Watenpaugh.  Mary Denson, Association President while Watenpaugh was Superintendent, recalls, “He was congenial.  He gave the appearance of wanting to work well with the teachers.  He was good at follow up” when teachers raised questions or had issues with the district.

Mike Schroeder, RPCEA President from 2000 to 2005, enjoyed his relationship with Watenpaugh.  Together they solved many problems.  Schroeder always felt respected by Watenpaugh and he believed all employees were treated fairly.  Watenpaugh had a reputation for following all of the union contracts.

Trustee Tim Nonn believes Watenpaugh has just the right tools for the current situation.  “Dr. Michael Watenpaugh brings a wealth of experience and a familiarity with our district that few superintendents can match.  He has a reputation for fairness and working collaboratively.  His commitment to genuine collaboration is what we need to move beyond conflict and divisiveness toward becoming a preeminent school district.”

Former Trustee and two-time Board President Karyn Pulley served on the Board from 2000 to 2012 worked with Watenpaugh when he was superintendent from 2003 to 2007.  She praised his leadership and sees this as a timely return.

“Michael Watenpaugh will bring a positive, caring, collaborative and healing spirit to the district.  Together, as he works with staff and the oversight of the school board trustees, they will be building a renewed foundation for the district to grow and meet goals and objectives for our students’ futures.”

Current CRPUSD School Board President Leff Brown enjoyed working with Watenpaugh fifteen years ago.  Brown believes that Watenpaugh is the perfect fit for the current situation.

Watenpaugh appears to be thrilled to be returning to Cotati-Rohnert Park.  He began working last week as soon as the Board hired him.  He said, “I’m excited to be returning to CRPUSD as the Interim Superintendent.  I can’t wait to get into our schools and classrooms to talk with students, teachers and staff.  I’m eager to see the great things that are happening and to learn how I can best support kids and staff.”