WATCH: OC Board of Education interviews candidates for county superintendent of schools

The Orange County Board of Education interviewed candidates seeking to be appointed as county superintendent during a special session on Wednesday. 

The meeting began at 3:30 p.m. in the Board Room at the Orange County Department of Education and streamed live on YouTube. President Tim Shaw said he expects the board to announce its selection on June 18.

The position of county superintendent carries significant responsibilities. Along with overseeing schools and programs administered by the Orange County Department of Education, the appointee will serve as the employer of record for all OCDE staff and manage the department’s educational programs and services. Additionally, the county superintendent provides mandated fiscal oversight for every Orange County school district and ensures that all students have access to sufficient textbooks and instructional materials.

Board Room at OCDE

The county superintendent also reviews and approves Local Control and Accountability Plans, or LCAPs; offers professional development for educators; coordinates educational programs and other services; assists with the purchase and distribution of instructional materials and equipment; and provides advisory services in school business administration, according to the California Education Code.

The educational leader who is ultimately selected will complete the remainder of County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares’ term, which ends in January 2027, and will have the opportunity to run for a full four-year term in 2026 as an incumbent. Citing health issues, Dr. Mijares announced on April 26 that he will step down at the end of June.

County board members required prospective candidates to submit resumes highlighting their qualifications and experience, along with letters of reference. Candidates are legally required to be residents and registered voters in Orange County at the time of their appointment and possess a valid credential authorizing them to perform administrative services in California.

Who’s applied

Six prospective candidates submitted applications by the May 10 deadline and were interviewed at Wednesday’s meeting. They are:

  • Dr. Stefan Bean, who is currently executive director of Irvine International Academy and is the former superintendent and associate superintendent of Aspire Public Schools Los Angeles, where he worked for over 11 years

  • Dennis Cole, who serves as director of district partnerships and operations for OCDE’s Alternative Education division (ACCESS) and is a trustee for the Fountain Valley School District

  • Dr. Charles D. Hinman, who served as superintendent of the West Covina Unified School District and has been interim superintendent of the Fountain Valley and Westminster school districts, as well as Oxford Preparatory Academy

  • Dr. Maria Martinez-Poulin, who has served as superintendent of the Whittier City School District, interim superintendent for the Culver City Unified School District and deputy superintendent for the Los Angeles County Office of Education

  • Dr. Ramon Miramontes, who currently serves as OCDE’s deputy superintendent of instructional programs and is the former superintendent of the Buena Park School District

  • Kirsten Vital Brulte, who served as superintendent of the Capistrano and Alameda unified school districts from 2009 through 2022

Leading OCDE

The next Orange County superintendent will lead an organization that serves the county’s most vulnerable student populations and provides support and mandated fiscal oversight to 28 school districts serving more than 600 schools and approximately 450,000 students.

Along with providing direct instruction to Orange County students through its own Alternative Education and Special Education programs, OCDE supports local districts with an array of services necessary for their operations, including professional development, high-speed internet access and security, legal and fiscal guidance, payroll systems, Local Control and Accountability Plan assistance and approval, and student enrichment.

Detailed information about the role of county superintendent can be found in Section 1240 of the California Education Code. Resumes, letters of recommendation and supporting documents for each candidate can be accessed in the meeting agenda. Additional updates on the process will be posted on the Orange County Board of Education’s website.

How to watch

Community members who couldn’t attend the May 22 meeting in person can still watch each of the interviews. The session aired live on YouTube and will remain available for viewing.