On Oct. 25, at a regularly scheduled meeting, the Roaring Fork School District (RFSD) Board of Education voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Jesús Rodríguez.
The resignation agreement includes a clause for the school district to pay Rodríguez a $144,182.43 lump sum no later than two weeks after his Oct. 23 resignation date.
Rodríguez began the job on July 1 last year, and after only one year, three months and 23 days into his five-year contract, an agreement between the board and Rodríguez was made that his departure was in the best interest of all parties.
A series of controversies during Rodríguez’s tenure undermined community trust and confidence in his leadership. An Oct. 27 article, written by reporter Rich Allen and published by the Aspen Daily News, chronicles those events leading up to the superintendent’s departure.
With this latest turn of events, the RFSD community grapples with the departure of a short-tenured school superintendent. The abrupt exit has raised questions and prompted a need for reflection.
If you do a Google search for the term “superintendent resignation,” the results will yield dozens of news articles from around the country reporting on district superintendents who have resigned for various reasons.
In a February 2022 Education Week article, the National Superintendents Roundtable, a professional network organized by the Schlechty Center, surveyed nearly 400 superintendents. Survey results revealed that 63% said they had considered quitting in the 2020-21 school year, though only 17% resigned.
The RFSD is not alone in the dilemma it currently faces, which leads to the question: Where do we go from here?
Since mid-August, when Rodriguez took a parental leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), entitled under U.S. labor law, Dr. Anna Cole, chief of student and family services, has served as acting superintendent.
Cole was the sole applicant for the internally posted interim superintendent position and was approved, by a unanimous vote, as the lone finalist at the Oct. 25 meeting. A vote at the next regularly scheduled board meeting on Nov. 8 will likely move Cole from acting to interim superintendent, which would entail serving in a temporary capacity until the end of this school year in May.
A superintendent search by Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, the consulting firm that yielded Rodríguez as superintendent candidate last year, will begin. Board President Kathryn Kuhlenberg said the firm is “required” to provide another search, with most of those services at no charge, because Rodríguez’s contract was terminated ahead of his stipulated two-year service requirement.