Xavier De La Torre Leaving Post as County Superintendent of Education

After a rocky year-and-a-half on the job, Santa Clara County Office of Education Superintendent Xavier De La Torre will be heading back to Texas for a job as superintendent of a smaller school district. He sent an email to county Board of Education members late Wednesday night informing him of his decision.

San Jose Inside reported more than three months ago that De La Torre was on the brink of being fired or resigning after a series of dustups with staff and a dissatisfactory performance review. He accepted the county’s top education post in February 2012.

As county superintendent, De La Torre oversaw 31 school districts, 17,000 teachers and 280,000 students. Some of his top priorities after coming to the county office were to make staff leaner and more productive, which didn’t sit well with some district employees. He cut 33 administrative positions, though some were later restored.

Going from managing a 44,000-student district in El Paso to overseeing an office the size of Santa Clara County’s, with different personalities, protocols and a mandate to make the office more lean, proved to be a difficult situation.

“Xavier kind of walked into a hornet’s nest,” one board member told San Jose Inside in October. “There’s always going to be complaints.”

But De La Torre’s management style was considered so disruptive that the Board of Education hired an “executive coach” last summer to help him interact with staff in a more productive manner. Before coming to the county, he worked as superintendent of Socorro Independent School District in El Paso, Texas. He will reportedly return to El Paso to take the superintendent post for Ysleta Independent School District.

The Board made this official statement in an email making the rounds: “Dr. De La Torre preferred to return to a local district and continue the work in which he had been previously engaged. The Board respects his decision and wishes him well in his new endeavor. The path forward for the Board is to select a new Superintendent as quickly as possible and soon designate interim leadership for the County Office of Education.”

Details of De La Torre’s departure are still unclear—a settlement is currently being negotiated—but a source with knowledge of the situation said he will be gone before June 30.

El Paso’s school districts have been subject to widespread rumors of test manipulation to gain federal grant money—although no evidence ever linked De La Torre to the test cheating scandal. He left his former post just before an audit came out accusing his top administrators of impropriety. Several administrators were suspended until a final report cleared them of any wrongdoing.

As part of a negotiated buyout, De La Torre will likely have 18 months from the time he leaves to pay back a housing loan of about $960,000. The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 19, but a special session could be called sooner.

Calls for comment to De La Torre’s office were not immediately returned.

Josh Koehn contributed to this report.

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

7 Comments

  1. Details of De La Torre’s departure are still unclear—a settlement is currently being negotiated—but a source with knowledge of the situation said he will be gone before June 30.

    File the public records request now!

  2. Maybe it’s time to reform the system and to let the Santa Clara County Voters directly elect their Superintendent. Nearby San Mateo County elects its Superintendent and has been spared of the constant lawsuits/dissensions that have plagued our County for so many years now.

    • > … let the Santa Clara County Voters directly elect their Superintendent.

      The main problem is not how to pick the skipper to occupy the wheelhouse of a creaky, leaky rust bucket with a sullen, insolent crew.

      The real question is: why do we go along with the system that says that all of our children have to ride on the creaky, leaky rust bucket?

      We need to change the system so that children and their parents can pick different boats to ride on, and to different destinations.

  3. Well, I’m sure board member Di Salvo and his zealous acolytes (leftover Weis trash) are hoisting a few cold one in celebration of De La Torre’s exit.

  4. De La Torre is a great Superintendent. Sad day for Santa Clara County schools and students because they will not be benefiting from his knowledge and leadership.

  5. I have been dealing with our school district for over 2+ years in an attempt to get my daughter services and placement she needs and deserves!! The districts administration is in my opinion a joke and for one reason or another face no type of reprimand for their obvious violations in compliance over several areas in the educational factors. I have went above and beyond that attempting to gain assistance from SELPA, HEAD START and the SCCOE. Every entity basically turned me away and referred me back to the district and going as far as contacting them, not to bring resolution but seemingly in raising more conflict by bringing in more intensity to an already influential situation by forwarding my emails to the director and allowing the district to be its own conflict resolution liaison. HOW DOES THIS MAKE SENSE!! I went as far as contacting DRCA and a letter was sent on my daughters behalf to our districts assistant superintendent indicating they were in direct violation of my daughters right under IDEA, Child Find and McKinley Vento act and immediate placement should be obtained without any delay. Never received a response or even acknowledgement of the letter only the districts attorney attempting to contact the DRCA attorney whom sent the letter. A short time later I was contacted by what was the new assistant superintendent, (this was only achieved because I was connected to a board of trustees member who assisted in getting me connected after hearing of my on going struggle from another district parent) I am currently going through the entire assessment process for a second time with a whole new assessment team. They appear to be more comprehensive then the last but is it only because of my previous involvement and where is the previous team and assistant superintendent? There turnover rate is prenominal!! Bottom line is I agree the whole entire system needs to be re evaluated restructured and envisioned. Every employee needs to be held accountable in every aspect that entails educating our children from the top to the bottom. I have lost faith in a district that I as a child LOVED and now am looking towards other means, such as charter and applying for scholarships to private schools, to provide my daughter what she and every deserves, a descent education not based on funding and or testing but with passion and drive to see every child succeed and be taken to their fullest potential not just a number that becomes lost and forgotten!!!! My apologies for the early morning rant but thankful I got it out ENJOY YOUR DAY AND KEEP FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT!