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San Diego County Board of Education Selects Dr. Gloria E. Ciriza as Next County Superintendent of Schools

San Diego County Board of Education Selects Dr. Gloria E. Ciriza as Next County Superintendent of Schools
County Superintendent Dr. Ciriza announcement


Dr. Gloria E. Ciriza, a 30-year educator who has championed educational equity, will become the next San Diego County Superintendent of Schools. She will be the first female county superintendent in the San Diego County Office of Education’s (SDCOE) 76-year history.

Appointed by the San Diego County Board of Education, the county superintendent of schools is the head of SDCOE, which operates programs and services that allow districts and schools to focus on providing a high-quality learning experience for children and families while leveraging economies of scale to enhance effectiveness and save taxpayer dollars. The county superintendent also has direct oversight responsibilities for approving and assuring school district budgets, calling school district elections, and assisting with school district emergencies. 

Dr. Ciriza is currently the assistant superintendent of Student Services and Programs at SDCOE, which includes the Juvenile Court and Community Schools, Special Education, Student Support, Student Wellness and School Culture, Whole Child and Community Design, and Outdoor Education departments.  She joined SDCOE in March 2021 and has been instrumental in advancing SDCOE’s North Star goal to reduce poverty through public education. The organization is committed to making sure every child feels a sense of belonging in our schools and removing barriers that prevent students from thriving. 

“I am thrilled to be selected and to continue advancing progress towards SDCOE’s North Star so that every child thrives in school, career, and life,” said Ciriza. “It’s an honor to be the first woman in this role, to provide representation for young women and people of color, and to advocate for all students. I look forward to connecting with educational partners throughout our region and leading the organization with integrity, compassion, and grace.”

The San Diego County Board of Education will consider Dr. Ciriza’s contract at their next regularly scheduled public meeting on May 8 and she is anticipated to assume the post on July 1. She will succeed Superintendent Dr. Paul Gothold, who is retiring after seven years in the role.

“Dr. Ciriza is a human-centered leader who has demonstrated an ability to raise educational outcomes and success for all students, especially our most historically underserved students,” said San Diego County Board of Education President Alicia Muñoz. “Kids need to see role models who look like them, and to be able to picture themselves in the workforce and in leadership positions. We have strong schools and tough challenges in our region. With Dr. Ciriza at the helm, we look forward to deeper collaboration with our partner districts and increased academic opportunities for the 500,000 students we serve.”

Dr. Ciriza began her career as a substitute teacher in the National School District, then taught 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th grades in the San Diego and Poway unified school districts. She later served as an associate principal in the Poway Unified and Chula Vista Elementary School Districts (CVESD). During her tenure as principal, Heritage Elementary School became the highest performing of 47 schools in CVESD.  

She continued her career at CVESD as director of human resources; executive director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment; and assistant superintendent of instruction. Dr. Ciriza’s instructional leadership work resulted in CVESD being recognized by the Learning Policy Institute for outperforming county and state averages in academic achievement for under-represented student groups such as English learners, African American, and socio-economically disadvantaged students. 

As a socially conscious leader, Dr. Ciriza empowers employees to lead from the heart and develop meaningful, authentic relationships to ensure all students have access to high-quality education facilitated by compassionate adults in the classroom and in the community. Her collaborative approach led the Association of California School Administrators to name Dr. Ciriza as their 2018 Administrator of the Year: Curriculum and Instruction; the California Association of Bilingual Educators also named her as Administrator of the Year in 2010. 

Dr. Ciriza holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Slippery Rock University, a master’s degree in education administration from National University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from San Diego State University. She is a member of the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators, Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, and Association of California School Administrators.

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