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District names new acting principal

Former Pajaro Valley High School principal Frank “Pancho” Rodriguez assumed the role of acting principal on Friday. He will stay in this role indefinitely, until Principal Kim Diorio returns from her medical leave.

According to an email sent to all staff by Interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks, Rodriguez was the founding principal of Pajaro Valley High School in Watsonville, Calif. in 2004, but retired in 2014.

While at Pajaro Valley High School, Rodriguez “focused on equity, access and success for all learners, reflecting steady growth in both graduation rates and college enrollment,” according to the email.

Since retiring, Rodriguez has filled in for administrative roles at various schools, including a short stint at Palo Alto High School earlier this year.

“[Rodriguez] was our assistant principal when Ms. Kim was out in November and December, so he’s been around,” said Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson.

According to Berkson, Rodriguez was chosen from a pool of retired administrators that can substitute for Bay Area schools when needed.

“He’s a good guy, he’s experienced,” Berkson said. “He brings in a different perspective than some of the team in that he’s from the outside which is great to see. And he’ll definitely take charge but also let us do our jobs.”

Berkson added that he doesn’t foresee any struggles because the administration is “a real strong team.”

This is also not Rodriguez’s first time working with Hendricks. One of the schools Rodriguez worked at after retirement was Carmel High School, which is part of Hendricks’ former school district. According to a Palo Alto Online article, Hendricks said she “had a good experience working with him.”

Carolyn Benfield, the principal’s secretary, described Rodriguez as “warm, welcoming and easy to work with.”

Rodriguez will hold his first staff meeting next week.

Both Rodriguez and Diorio were unable to be reached for comment.

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