Roaring Fork school board unanimously accepts Superintendent Jesús Rodríguez’ resignation
The Roaring Fork School District board of education unanimously voted on Wednesday to accept the resignation of Superintendent Jesús Rodríguez.
As part of the resignation agreement, Rodríguez will receive a severance amounting to just a little over $144,000. Following his departure, Acting Superintendent Anna Cole, who is the lone application for the interim superintendent position, looks to lead the district for the remainder of the school year.
Rodríguez’s resignation comes after his absence since Aug. 14, when he took leave through the Family Medical Leave Act. While he was scheduled to return to the district on Oct. 20, he never officially resumed his position for the second school year. The board’s decision to accept Rodríguez’s resignation was settled with a 5-0 vote, with payment expected in a lump sum within the next two weeks.
“This is what we needed to do to move on and start healing,” said District C board director Maureen Stepp.
During the meeting, emotions ran high. Director Natalie Torres voiced her sentiments.
“To say I feel frustrated, disappointed and sad is an understatement,” Torres said. “As board members, we are faced with decisions that please some but not others.”
Torres stressed the community’s aspiration for a superintendent who serves as a role model and source of inspiration.
District A board member Kenny Teitler brought to light the importance of community engagement from the superintendent. He pointed out Rodríguez’s decision to purchase a house in Denver due to challenges finding one in Glenwood Springs. He emphasized the urgency of resolving such housing issues before recruiting the next superintendent.
Board Vice President Jasmin Ramirez reinforced the sentiment that the district’s leader should live within district boundaries. She asserted her commitment to identifying the right leader for the district.
Lindsay DeFrates, currently campaigning for a District C board seat, during her public comment called for clarity and transparency from the board, especially regarding the severance agreement with Rodríguez.
Cole, now at the district’s helm, is focused on stability and consistency.
“Our focus is on what the next right thing to do for our kids in our schools is,” she said.
Cole said she is contemplating officially stepping into the superintendent role next year, but still has a lot of thinking to do. Her contract discussions for the interim role are on the docket for the Nov. 8 board meeting.
Kathryn Kuhlenberg, the board president, reflected on the current scenario and Rodríguez’s contributions to the district.
“I think Dr. Rodríguez’s impact on our schools and our community development has been positive and there’s been a lot of great work that has been done,” Kuhlenberg said. “At the end of the day, we all want the same thing, and that’s the best educational experience for our kids.”
The next board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 8.
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