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Tustin Schools Chief Maurice Ross to Retire Friday

Maurice Ross, Tustin Unified School District’s superintendent for the last 13 years, retires this week after a productive but controversial career with the district.

As superintendent, Ross helped establish a $103-million agreement with the Irvine Co. for new schools in the East Tustin area and improved the financial health of the district, which was $1.3 million in the red when he arrived.

But his philosophy and management style were sometimes unpopular with the school board and teachers, who went on strike five years ago and expressed their dissatisfaction with him at board meetings during lengthy contract negotiations this year.

Citing a difference of philosophy with the school board, Ross resigned last fall, effective June 30--the end of his two-year contract.

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“Participatory management is what we’re looking for,” said board President Gloria Tuchman in a telephone interview Tuesday. “That’s not his style. We want someone who has strong labor relations as far as dealing with the people in contract negotiations.”

Ross said his one regret is that he was not able to visit school sites to talk with students, teachers and principals as often as he would have liked.

“I had seven new board members in a five-year period of time, and that was so time-consuming that I couldn’t get out into the schools the way I wanted to,” he said.

Ross, whose last day of work is Friday, is establishing an educational consulting business and on Monday will begin a five-month stint as interim superintendent for the Santa Barbara Elementary and High School districts.

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“They have some of the same kind of problems I’ve had here--financial problems, declining enrollment,” Ross said.

Reports also have been circulating that he plans to run for the school board, but Ross said he has not reached a final decision.

“If that’s his choice, that’s the American way,” said Tuchman, who is up for reelection in November, along with board member Jane Bauer.

David Andrews, former superintendent of the Rialto School District, will replace Ross beginning Monday.

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