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Orange County Superintendent Al Mijares Resigns After Prolonged Absence and Controversy Over Transparency

Elevated concerns over leadership void and lack of clarity surround his resignation.

Orange County Superintendent Al Mijares announced his resignation April 26 following a prolonged and largely unexplained medical leave that left stakeholders questioning the management of the department. 

Mijares, who oversees a significant administrative body responsible for payroll and legal support across 28 school districts, had been absent from public view and professional responsibilities for over a year. His resignation comes amidst growing scrutiny over his lack of communication and the opaque nature of his departure from active duty.

Mijares' medical leave began shortly after his re-election in late 2022, with his last appearance in the office recorded in August 2023. Despite being an elected official with an annual salary nearing $400,000 before benefits, making him one of the highest paid at the county level, Mijares failed to formally announce his leave to the public. His absence was first hinted at in a letter to staff in March 2023, where he mentioned "complications from a medical issue" that necessitated an extended leave, as confirmed by a subsequent department letter in August.

His communication with the board and the public remained minimal throughout his leave, culminating in a March letter where he expressed hopes of returning by August. 

In his stead, Ramon Miramontes, the deputy superintendent, has been managing day-to-day operations with minimal involvement of the county board. This situation has caused friction and concern among board members, including Tim Shaw, chair of the county board of education, who lamented the lack of forthcoming information from Mijares about the department’s ongoing operations.

“The first several months he was gone we heard very little from him. We want to be respectful of his health and privacy, but he wasn’t very forthcoming,” Shaw told the Voice of OC. “He finally told us he had a medical problem he was working on and that was all we got.”

Board members, including Ken Williams Jr. and Mari Barke, echoed sentiments of frustration over the lack of transparency, noting the difficulty in maintaining operational oversight without adequate communication from the top. 

“I understand the privacy and HIPAA issues and I want to validate that … but at the same time, it sure would be nice to know exactly how we can pray for him or help him because he’s one of the significant county authorities in a very important area of education,” Williams told Voice of OC. 

Barke added similarly, “I think there’s just been a true lack of transparency which isn’t unusual between the board and the staff. We’re elected officials and we owe transparency to the public as well as each other. I can’t imagine I’d be missing for this long and not be more transparent.”


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