BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
Gloria Hernandez-Goff told the Post yesterday (March 21) that she knew she would be fired as superintendent of the Ravenswood City School District as far back as two years ago.
That’s when the district’s teachers held a no-confidence vote and urged her dismissal after the botched launch of a new middle school.
Hernandez-Goff said she is not surprised she is leaving, only the timing of it. She had been on sick leave for five days the night the board voted to suspend her. She had taken the time off on doctor’s orders because she was at risk of a stroke, she said.
Hernandez-Goff said she always respected the school board members and accepts the decision they made to have her leave, especially with the new board majority that “has only heard a lot about me.”
Middle school launch
What Hernandez-Goff said did her in was the launch of the middle school, which coincided with the no-confidence vote by the district’s teachers union.
Teachers were upset after Hernandez-Goff and other administrators told parents where teachers would be assigned for the next year before the instructors themselves were notified. The teachers also said there was “zero teacher input” in the planning of the school. However, Hernandez-Goff said there was a year and a half of outreach regarding the school.
“You know, I decided not to take it personally. Change is difficult,” she said.
But Hernandez-Goff maintains that opening the middle school was the right decision, and said it will save the district money in the long run while helping to better prepare middle schoolers in the district before they go to Menlo-Atherton High School.
For instance, the middle school will bring higher level classes to students. Previously, Ravenswood never had algebra teachers because the district couldn’t afford to hire five such teachers, one for each of the K-8 campuses.
Hernandez-Goff said that a big accomplishment for her was revamping the district’s special education program so it did not have to be overseen by a federal judge, something rarely achieved by school districts that go under a federal watch.
About her son on the payroll
One of the most frequently heard complaints about Hernandez-Goff is that her son, John Denos, is employed in the district’s IT department.
Hernandez-Goff said that Denos applied for the job himself without her involvement.
“I told (HR) that my son applied … and I asked HR to check with legal and our policy if this was allowed, and, if not, to let him know,” Hernandez-Goff said.
Families leaving the district
She said the biggest challenge she had while superintendent is the declining enrollment. Enrollment has dropped from 4,700 in the mid-1990s to 2,400 today.
The declining enrollment creates a financial challenge for Ravenswood since state funding is based on the number of pupils in the school system.
But she said that other districts in the area are having the same trouble, usually due to families moving away due to skyrocketing housing costs.
However, many families have left the Ravenswood district for a different reason — the district’s poor academic performance, as shown in student testing required by the state.
These families have put their children into the numerous charter schools and private academies that have sprung up in East Palo Alto over the past decade.
$160,678 in severance
Hernandez-Goff’s last day will be March 31.
As the Post reported yesterday, she will receive $160,678 as part of a severance agreement. She received an annual salary of $192,814.
In return for the $160,678, Hernandez-Goff has agreed not to sue the district over her termination.
Hernandez-Goff, 71, said she is not sure what she will be doing next, but will likely be heading back to Sacramento, where she raised her children and spent much of her career. Prior to coming to Ravenswood, she was an assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum and instruction for the Twin Rivers Unified School District in northern Sacramento County, which serves some 27,000 K-12 students.