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Ken Johnson pulls out of SJ superintendent race

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POSTED October 2, 2013 11:11 p.m.

Manteca Unified school teacher Ken Johnson is pulling out of the race for San Joaquin County Office of Education superintendent.

The president of the Manteca Educators Association told the Bulletin Wednesday he is taking his name out of the race because he lacks one of the criteria needed to run as a candidate. He found out about while “doing some fact checking on the election,” he said.

After contacting the California Department of Education and the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters, both agencies confirmed to him that one needs an administrative services credential to run for superintendent. That requirement is governed by Education Code Section 1208.

Even so, Johnson could have gotten around that requirement by seeking a waiver under the provisions provided by Education Code Section 33050. However, while the code section does provide the opportunity for a waiver, Johnson said, “the county Board of Education would have to request that, and I don’t think they want an outsider coming in to clean house.

“So that is that. I didn’t know that when I made my decision, unfortunately,” he informed the Bulletin in an e-mail.

In a sardonic note, he added, “As my wife said, ‘you have to be more qualified to be county superintendent than president of the U.S.”

Johnson’s candidacy would have rounded out to four the number of those who declared themselves running for the position currently held by Superintendent Mick Founts of Manteca. He also would have been the third candidate from the Manteca Unified School District area. The two are Jeff Tilton who was the first to declare his intent to run, followed by Gary Dei Rossi. Both have formerly worked as administrators at the county office of education. Late last week, SJCOE’s deputy superintendent in charge of Student Programs and Services division announced to the Bulletin that he is also adding his name to the election roster for superintendent of county schools.

Founts has announced his plan to retire at the end of the current school year.

In his election web site, Johnson explained his reason for seeking the office of San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools: “Our current county superintendent of schools has spent nearly $4 million of taxpayer dollars on a gym for a high school and his daughter just happens to be the basketball coach there. Conflict of interest?”

San Joaquin County voters will go to the polls on June 3, 2014 to choose the candidate that they want to lead county schools. The candidate who garners 50 percent of the votes plus one more vote will be declared the winner. However, if there is no such clear-cut winner, the top two vote-getters will go on to compete in a run-off election in November 2014.

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