Ravenswood school board votes to keep controversial superintendent

Daily Post Staff Writer

The financially troubled Ravenswood City School District board last night (April 26) voted 3-1 to renew the contract of controversial Superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff over the objections of parents, teachers and East Palo Alto’s mayor.

Their complaints against Hernandez-Goff include the fact she hired her son as an IT technician, she removed a popular elementary school principal, she doesn’t listen to the suggestions of teachers and that she should have been gradually reducing the district’s budget as enrollment declined instead of putting off the cuts until this year, when 83 jobs were eliminated.

Over the past three years, test scores show the district has made very little progress in academics. Math scores have only gone up 1 percentage point and English increased by 1.5 points. Last year, only 19.5% of students met or exceeded state standards in English, and 13% met or exceeded math standards.

Trustees Ana Maria Pulido, Sharifa Wilson and Charlie Mae Knight voted to renew her contract last night. Only Marilena Goana-Mendoza voted against the contract. Trustee Marcelino Lopez was absent.

At the meeting Hernandez-Goff doubled down on her commitment to the district.

“Let me be clear, I am 1,000% committed to serving as superintendent,” Hernandez-Goff said. “This is not just a job for me. This is a vocation where the only goal I have is to institute reforms that will give the children of this community the opportunity to achieve.”

Resident embarrassed

Before the board voted, parents, teachers and concerned residents spoke out against renewing Hernandez-Goff’s contract.

“It’s embarrassing. There are a lot of problems … friends and family are getting hired,” said longtime resident Mike Francois. “This has to stop. I see you in the paper more than I see sexual pedophiles.”

Belle Haven Elementary teacher Bronwyn Alexander said while she has nothing against Hernandez-Goff personally, she said there isn’t a lot of loyalty among teachers for the superintendent, and recommended the board not renew her contract.

A student read a letter from Mayor Ruben Abrica, who has supported those who have spoken out against Hernandez-Goff.

“Her abusive and reckless actions speak more loudly than her words,” Abrica’s letter said. “The community wants to improve education for their children and they have been asking questions. Answer and stand with them. Do not renew the superintendent’s contract.”

Though she got a new contract, she didn’t immediately receive a raise. Her salary will stay at $192,814 a year. But when other district administrators get a raise, she will get a bump in pay, what’s called a “me too” raise.

Teachers call for her to resign

Hernandez-Goff’s future has been in doubt since last May when 143 of the district’s 184 teachers signed a letter asking the superintendent to resign. Teachers were upset after Hernandez-Goff and other administrators allegedly told parents where teachers would be assigned for the next year before the instructors themselves were notified. That created an “air of distrust,” her opponents said.

Hernandez-Goff was also criticized for reassigning popular Belle Haven Elementary School principal Todd Gaviglio to a desk job in the central office. Earlier this month, about 200 students were kept home from school by their parents to protest the removal of Gaviglio.

Hernandez-Goff said she has achieved two major accomplishments — the opening of a middle school and revamping the district’s special education program so it did not have to be overseen by a federal judge.

“Being located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, we have made it our mission to ensure that Ravenswood students are provided with the necessary foundation to allow them the opportunity to one day work for the technology companies that neighbor their homes,” Hernandez-Goff said.