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Board of education approves Gloria Ciriza as San Diego County Schools superintendent

Gloria E. Ciriza will officially become the next San Diego County superintendent of schools on July 1, following approval of the County Board of Education.

The board unanimously approved Ciriza late Wednesday evening. She was previously announced as the board's selection on April 15, but her contract needed to be approved at a public board meeting.

Ciriza will become the first female county superintendent in the San Diego County Office of Education's 76-year history.


Ciriza is currently the SDCOE's assistant superintendent of student services and programs, 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, a statement from the office said.

She joined SDCOE in March 2021 and has advanced SDCOE's North Star goal to reduce poverty through public education, the department said.

"I am honored and humbled to lead an organization that makes such an impact in our communities across the county, state, and country," Ciriza said. "I look forward to continuing our North Star work of decreasing poverty and increasing belonging through public education."

Ciriza succeeds Superintendent Dr. Paul Gothold, who is retiring after seven years in the role.

"The board's 5-0 vote to approve Dr. Ciriza's contract demonstrates our unified confidence in her knowledge, passion and ability to lead our organization," said San Diego County Board of Education President Alicia Muñoz. "We are so grateful to Dr. Gothold for his leadership, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the direction he has positioned our organization, which we look forward to continuing with Dr. Ciriza."


According to the county office, Ciriza began her career as a substitute teacher in the National School District, then taught third, fourth, fifth and seventh grades in the San Diego and Poway districts.

She later served as an associate principal in the Poway and Chula Vista elementary school districts. During her tenure as principal, Heritage Elementary School became the highest-performing of 47 schools in CVESD.

Ciriza continued her career at CVESD as director of human resources; executive director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment; and assistant superintendent of instruction.

The Association of California School Administrators named her its 2018 Administrator of the Year for Curriculum and Instruction, and the California Association of Bilingual Educators named her Administrator of the Year in 2010.

She holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Slippery Rock University, a master's in education administration from National University and a doctorate in educational leadership from San Diego State.

Besides being in charge of the SDCOE's programs and services, the superintendent has the responsibility of approving district budgets, calling district elections and assisting with district emergencies.