Orange County Education Chief Stepping Down to Battle Cancer 

Orange County Education Chief Stepping Down to Battle Cancer 

(L-R) The Orange County Board of Education trustees Tim Shaw, Lisa Sparks, Jorge Valdes, Mari Barke, Ken Williams, and the county Superintendent of Schools Al Mijares during a meeting at the Orange County Department of Education in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Aug. 17, 2022. (Micaela Ricaforte/The Epoch Times)

Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte


Updated: 5/15/2024


Orange County Department of Education Superintendent Al Mijares recently announced his retirement, publicly sharing his battle with cancer that started in late 2022.
Mr. Mijares has spent nearly a year on paid medical leave without public disclosure. In March, he told staff he planned to return to work in July.
However, in an April 26 statement, Mr. Mijares said recent discussions with his family and doctors caused him to reconsider.
“With the best interests of the [department of education] in mind, and for the sake of my health, I am announcing my retirement, effective June 30,” he stated. “Over the past year, I have chosen to keep many of the details of my health challenges private, largely to avoid distracting from the critical work we undertake together. Now, I feel it is appropriate to share with you that I have been battling cancer.”
The superintendent thanked his family, friends and doctors for their support.
“Anyone whose life has been impacted by this type of diagnosis knows it can be an uneven journey fraught with challenges—and countless medical consultations,” he said. “My own road has been both humbling and enlightening, but I have not traveled it alone.”
Deputy Supt. Ramon Miramontes, who has been filling in for Mr. Mijares since last August, will serve as interim superintendent until the Orange County Board of Education appoints a replacement to fill the rest of Mr. Mijares’ four-year term.
In an April 26 statement, Mr. Miramontes commended Mr. Mijares’ years of service to the department of education.
“Dr. Mijares’ unshakeable commitment to the success and well-being of every student was inspiring to all who worked alongside him,” Mr. Miramontes said. “His dedication to rigorous academics and career pathways while promoting empathy and compassion will forever be his legacy, reminding us of the profound impact that a caring leader can have on the lives of students and families.”
Before being elected to the superintendent position in 2014, Mr. Mijares was appointed to the Orange County Board of Education in 2012, filling a vacancy left by a former trustee.
Previously, he spent six years as vice president of education at the nonprofit College Board. Before that, he served nearly 12 years as superintendent of the Santa Ana Unified School District, and also served as superintendent of the Bakersfield City and Coachella Valley Unified school districts, as well as a principal in the Moreno Valley Unified School District.
The Orange County Department of Education serves the 600 schools and 450,000 public school students in Orange County.

Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

Author's Selected Articles
California Insider
Sign up here for our email newsletter!
©2024 California Insider All Rights Reserved. California Insider is a part of Epoch Media Group.