Op-Ed: Matilija Middle School principal is leaving

Photo on OUSD website
Matilija Middle School Principal Chris Murphy

By 9 parents of Matilija Middle School students

To the total dismay of the Matilija school community, it was announced out of the blue on March 12 that the highly qualified, competent, experienced, dynamic and student-focused Matilija Middle School principal, Christopher Murphy, would be leaving by the end of the 2020-21 school year.

Anyone who met Chris immediately noticed his commitment to education, students and their families and the dedication with which he has been handling his job during this most difficult year of the coronavirus pandemic. The principal has been fully engaged in all the workings of the school — academically, complete focus on students, responsive to families, setting up the (much needed) Math Program, support for his teachers, etc. while managing the difficult task of making it through this year.

He has been physically on campus every day, arriving early in the morning by 7:30 and being generally the last one to leave. He has been working tirelessly to respond to the demands of his job and is always available and responsive to students and their families. Many thought his experience gave him the educational, social and emotional background needed at a middle-school level. 

Before coming to Matilija, Chris was a highly regarded assistant principal at Ventura High School where he worked for three years. Prior to that, Chris worked for 25 years as a teacher and administrator in several districts, including Fillmore and LA Unified. In addition, Chris has an extensive cross-cultural background, having worked for years as a Peace Corps teacher and administrator in both Africa and Asia.

There are few principals in California with this type of background working in a grass-roots environment in countries that face severe inequality in education and income — many of the same issues facing California and Ojai today.

Given the need to retain students and improve their academic performance in Ojai Unified School District, it is imperative to have consistency in our leadership at Matilija Middle School. The loss of Mr. Chris Murphy, our current principal, shakes our confidence and trust in OUSD to provide a stable and effective learning environment for our students.

— The letter was signed by nine parents of Matilija Middle School students. They are: Seema Manghee, Kerri Sigmon, Rooshi Rahmati, Brian Kehoe, Nicole Kehoe, Wendy Hubbell, Alyssa Duclos, Asli Ruf and Amir Manzur.





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