Paso Robles school district names interim superintendent — and it’s a familiar face

A veteran San Luis Obispo County education administrator well-known to Paso Robles will step in to lead the financially strapped school district, following the previous superintendent’s sudden resignation.

Julian Crocker — who served as superintendent of the county Office of Education for 16 years before retiring in 2015 — will once again oversee the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, according to a letter from Jim Brescia, county schools superintendent.

Crocker is a familiar face in the city where he served as superintendent for nine years before being elected to county office in 1998, according to a 2014 Tribune story.

Superintendent Chris Williams resigned on Dec. 6 and will remain on the job until Dec. 22.

“I fully support the trustees’ decision to appoint Dr. Crocker on an interim basis,” Brescia said in the letter. “My office looks forward to reviewing the progress he, the district leadership, and the trustees make in stewarding the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District.”

The Paso Robles school board on Tuesday gave Brescia the go-ahead to negotiate a contract with an interim candidate during a closed-session meeting.

Crocker said he’s looking forward to being of assistance to the district in any way he can.

“I was in Paso Robles for a while as superintendent, so I have strong feelings for the district in terms of wanting it to be successful,” he said in phone interview.

Crocker said his top priority is attending to teachers and students, followed by helping to fix the district’s financial problems and assisting the board as trustees begin the search for a new permanent superintendent.

“The first task is to make sure the teaching staff feels comfortable delivering high-quality instruction,” he said.

Board President Joel Peterson said trustees were eager to secure Crocker as an interim leader when they found out he was interested in the position.

“I think Julian’s going to be a steady hand for us as we search for our next superintendent,” Peterson said in a phone interview.

The board will likely hold a special meeting to install Crocker sometime during the next couple of weeks, he said.

“We just want to get him on board as soon as possible so we can get to work,” Peterson said.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, North County communities and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. Lindsey is a native Californian raised in the Midwest and earned degrees from DePaul and Northwestern universities.