Sequoia high school district superintendent Pat Gemma to retire


Patrick Gemma, the superintendent of the Sequoia Union High School District since February 2003, has announced that he will retire on June 30, the end date for his current contract with the district, according to a district statement.

The governing board will begin the process of searching for a new superintendent at its Wednesday, Feb. 17, meeting, spokeswoman Bettylu Smith said.

Among the milestones during Mr. Gemma's tenure:

■ District voters approved two bond measures for $235 million.

■ A share of that bond money funded new performing arts centers at both Woodside and Menlo-Atherton high schools.

■ M-A and Woodside added remedial classes to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act.

■ Two charter schools -- Summit Prep and Everest -- opened in Redwood City, the second of which Mr. Gemma fought relentlessly in 2009.

Board president Olivia Martinez said Mr. Gemma played a "pivotal" role in developing the district's vision and set of goals for the new century. "His leadership will be missed but his legacy will continue for many years to come," she said.

Mr. Gemma retires after 38 years in California education, including positions as assistant superintendent, principal, vice-principal, and special education teacher, Ms. Smith said.

Mr. Gemma added that he is "looking forward to rejuvenating over the summer and spending more time with my aging father and family, reconnecting with friends, and contemplating which interests and challenges I might like to pursue next."

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Willy
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 12, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Congrats, Mr Gemma.

We especially appreciate, besides the obvious benefits to the district and your students, your efforts to include the community. More than just the PAC's, the civic center functions that a local high school provides, and you encouraged, are a benefit to the community as a whole.

Thank you.

Like this comment
Posted by Simple Simon
a resident of Oak Knoll School
on Feb 12, 2010 at 7:28 pm

38 years in public education is very commendable. Your contribution to our student's live has been tremendous. Even though we are on opposites sides on the Everest issue, my compliments to you and best wishes for this next chapter in your life.

Like this comment
Posted by district parent
a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2010 at 12:50 am

Good riddance - he has brought nothing but trouble to the Sequoia district with his manipulative, political, divisive relationship with the two charters schools...that was evident from the public coverage in all the local newspapers.

Like this comment
Posted by Willy
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 13, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Another anonymous basher hides behind the anonymity of the net, which certainly discounts the opinion, in the minds of some.

Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of Woodside High School
on Feb 13, 2010 at 4:26 pm

a mixed record: clear leadership on bond raising, warm cordial civility, deft handling of federal requirements were clear strengths. Jury remains out on the gold-plating of facilities: community investment or monumental waste? In the negative category he squandered time, money and community support fighting the charters, even when ranked among the best high schools in the country.

During his tenure, the high school graduation rate remained below 75% and the percent of freshmen fulfilling the college entrance requirements for the CSU system remained below 40%. These stats will be critical for the next superintendent to address.

I wish him well in his next phase.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 14, 2010 at 9:50 am

I've disagreed with Pat Gemma on many issues but I still thank him for his service.

Unfortunately, the Board of Trustees will be left "holding the bag" for many of his decisions including resolving the Everest dispute which was ill conceived and poorly handled. Good luck to the Trustees who will have to clean up this completely unnecessary mess that his fingerprints all over it.

Like this comment
Posted by district parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 14, 2010 at 10:17 am

The first time I met Pat was at a robotics competition in San Jose. I was stunned that the district sup would bother to travel down to San Jose on a weekend to see teams from a couple of district schools compete. He was utterly charming and down-to-earth ("hi, I'm Pat and I'm the supe") and when I told him how much effort we'd spent fundraising, he immediately said he'd find some money for our teams. And he did.

With the charter school fiasco, I saw a very different person. I also have grave concerns about the way that so many underperforming students seem to disappear from the schools. I realize that it is important for the district to keep up average scores and stay out of PI status, but I wonder at the long-term consequences of forcing kids to dropout.

So I applaud Pat for his service to our schools,our kids, and our community. He has been true to his vision, and he has worked tirelessly to see that vision through. And it behooves all of us to let our board know what we hope to see in his successor.

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 14, 2010 at 10:29 am

Being the Superintendent is a tough job. I wish Dr. Gemma well in his retirement, but also see in the change an opportunity for movement on some issues, the relationship with charter schools being an obvious one. Mr. Gemma, good luck in the next phase of your life and thank you for many years of public service.

Like this comment
Posted by Charlene
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Feb 15, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Superintendant Patrick Gemma was very supportive of the Parent Education Series at Menlo-Atherton, founded 3 years ago. We are grateful to him for supporting M-A's desire to bring high-quality Parent Ed speakers to the Sequoia Union High School Community. Thanks, Pat!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Why is it becoming increasingly impossible to open a restaurant on the Peninsula?
By Elena Kadvany | 29 comments | 5,363 views

An Easy Emissions Win
By Sherry Listgarten | 3 comments | 895 views

Helping Partners Become Couples (vs. Helping Couples Become Partners)
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 720 views

It just takes time
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 633 views

Sugar Detective
By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 536 views



On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Register now