Interim Superintendent Dr. Michael Watenpaugh

Dr. Michael Watenpaugh brings more than 37 years of professional education experience to Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District. 

Dr. Watenpaugh’s experience includes work as a classroom teacher, mentor teacher, site and district administrator in racially, ethnically, socio-economically and linguistically diverse communities, with a relentless commitment focused on ensuring equitable opportunities for all students. 

Most recently, Dr. Watenpaugh served as the Superintendent of San Rafael City Schools for an unprecedented twelve years. His courageous and strategic leadership established the conditions for a climate of transparency, trust and collaboration and equity-based decision making, Watenpaugh created and established new partnerships and collaborations with local, state, and national non-profit foundations, building coalitions and partnerships with stakeholders and community-based partners aligned with the district’s vision for a culturally proficient learning organization.  

Dr. Watenpaugh gained recognition for ensuring the District’s fiscal solvency through the state’s fiscal crisis, and successfully lead the facilities improvement visioning and planning, including passage of Measures A and B, general obligation bonds totaling $236 M for modernization and new school construction.  

His accomplishments include launching inclusive and innovative school programs with a focus on cultural proficiency, educator efficacy, family engagement and student voice.

Dr. Watenpaugh’s many honors and recognition include; Marin County Educator of the Year; Sonoma County Superintendent of the Year, City of Novato Educator of the Year, and Marin County Secondary Educator of the Year. As a community member, Dr. Watenpaugh has served on multiple boards in his community. Most recently, he served as the Co-Chair of Marin Promise, Chair, Beyond Differences, Board Member, Parent Services Project, Advisory Council, Marin Kids, Additionally, serves as an adjunct professor for Brandman University. 

Professionally, Dr. Watenpaugh is a member of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Equity Committee, and also serves as an ACSA Leadership Mentor for new Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents.

Dr. Watenpaugh is a frequent guest speaker and presenter.  He most recently was a panelist for Marin-based Race Matters, discussing “Race and Public Education”.  He was invited by the Jewish Community Relations Council to discuss, “Resources & Tools for Addressing Anti-Semitism, Intolerance & Bias.”

Dr. Watenpaugh earned his B.A. in Social Ecology, and a Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential from the University of California Irvine.  He has a M.A. in School Management and an Administrative Services Credential from the University of La Verne.  He holds a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne.

Watenpaugh and his family have been long-time members of the San Rafael community.  He has two children, one a student at College of Marin, and one a senior in high school. 


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