After three years of heading Alisal Union School District, Superintendent Dr. Héctor Rico has chosen not to his renew his contract. In a June 17 letter, Rico announced that he would finish out his contract, which ends this month.
He stepped into the position in the summer of 2016 and has headed the populous elementary school district, with just under 9,000 students. A majority of AUSD students are English Learners and also socioeconomically disadvantaged.
But despite these challenges, under Rico's leadership the district's schools have thrived.
He helped usher in and pass a $70 million school facilities bond to rebuild two schools, and fund the construction of a new school.
Amidst President Donald Trump's rolling out of anti-immigration policies—including increased ICE arrests and his repeal of the Obama-era Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals, or DACA—Rico and his board passed a Safe Haven resolution, declaring all their sites safe for their undocumented community. Under his leadership, AUSD also held several immigration workshops helping inform parents of their rights.
Rico also oversaw the push for AUSD's emphasis on creating a multi-tiered support system. That philosophy would integrate school board policies, extra curricular activities and increased mental health services around the well-roundness and health of students rather than just performance. This manifested in many ways, including hiring 12 counselors, creating two family resource centers and developing after school and summer activities like folklórico and mariachi programs.
He also helped AUSD catch up to the cutting edge of education, helping roll out a one-to-one student-to-device curriculum.
Rico expressed in the letter he was offered a "generous" renewal package, but has "elected to pursue other opportunities."
He ends the letter stating, "It’s been an honor to serve as this community’s superintendent and to have had a part in fulfilling the mission of cultivating the whole child for a world-class education."