Dr. Paul Gothold, The Power of Not Giving Up on Students

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Dr. Paul Gothold, the new Superintendent for the San Diego County Office of Education, dives into his views on what can be done to provide more equity in our education system for all learners. The implementation of these views led to remarkable success in bridging the opportunity gap that existed during his previous role as Principal of Lynwood High School in California. He discusses the moral imperative that educators have to keep at-risk students in school instead of suspending or expelling them when they are struggling with disenfranchisement from the education system. With an eye toward restorative justice and meeting more than just the academic needs of his students, Dr. Gothold is ready to embrace the challenges of his new position with a student-centered, heart-driven approach.

About Dr. Paul Gothold

Dr. Gothold began his career with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, working with adjudicated youth in the county’s Division of Alternative Education as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal. He later worked in the county’s Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program, mentoring new teachers, authoring curricula, and training educators in instructional strategies and ways to integrate technology with content standards.

He then worked at Montebello Unified School District as director of secondary education, where he fostered a professional environment that supported increased academic performance, improved attendance, and integrated interventions into the district’s core curriculum. There, he also worked for more than two years to create the Applied Technology Center, a non-traditional high school that touted five career education academies, fully integrated with core academics.

Dr. Gothold then joined Lynwood Unified as the Chief Academic Officer, and in 2013 he was named district superintendent. Lynwood Unified serves a student population that is 96 percent students of color, with more than 94 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches. He crafted a comprehensive professional development plan for all teachers and administrators to improve the district’s instructional program and initiated the Achieving Greatness Strategic Plan, which focused on making systemic changes to improve student outcomes.

His collaborative work with the Lynwood Unified Board of Education, teachers, staff, parents, and community resulted in dramatic increases in student achievement. In 2017, the district was one of only three in the nation — and the only one in California — to be selected as a 2017 AP District of the Year for simultaneously and continuously raising the number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes and improving passing rates on AP exams.

Since 2010–11, the graduation rates at both Lynwood comprehensive high schools have increased by more than 23 percentage points, with a current rate of 93 percent. The district has created more advanced placement courses, career technical pathways, and support programs to ensure that students succeed in college and career.

About San Diego County Office of Education

The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) serves the county’s most vulnerable students, and supports school leaders, teachers, and students across the county. It supports nearly 780​ schools and more than 500,000 students, including the nearly 10,000 children it educates each year through the Momentum Learning portfolio of schools (formerly known as Juvenile Court and Community Schools). SDCOE provides a variety of services for the 42 school districts, 124 charter schools, and five community college districts in the county.


The mission of the San Diego County Office of Education is to transform public education and guarantee high levels of student achievement. In partnership with local school districts and the global learning community, it is researching and applying innovative 21st century practices; leveraging resources; developing strategic alliances; inspiring powerful leadership; and providing exemplary customized services to districts, communities and the students in all County Office-operated programs.


  • Collaborate with school, industry, and community leaders to address countywide educational issues

  • Organize and facilitate professional learning opportunities

  • Provide financial oversight for school districts

  • Develop countywide technology initiatives

  • Support teachers and administrators as they earn and register credentials

  • Coordinate regional services for special populations of students

  • Support school districts with their Local Control and Accountability Plans

  • Process paychecks for school employees throughout the county

  • Provide internet connectivity to school districts

  • Coordinate countywide student-safety and emergency-preparation programs

  • Complete background checks and fingerprinting for school employees

  • Operate countywide outdoor education programs


SDCOE directly serves students from birth to age 22, including those who:

  • Need special physical or emotional support

  • Have been expelled from their school districts

  • Are detained at a juvenile detention facility

  • Are in foster care

  • Are experiencing homeless

  • Are from migrant families

  • Are pregnant or parenting

  • Are in drug-treatment programs

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