Long-time Desert Sands Unified Trustee Don Griffith will resign from the school board next week to accept an appointment as California Superior Court Commissioner.
Griffith was first appointed to the Desert Sands board in June 2008 and then elected in November of that year. His current term was set to expire at the end of 2022.
Griffith was most recently board president in 2021, overseeing months of school board meetings that drew large crowds of parents and community members who loudly criticized the district's adherence to county, state and federal COVID-19 health and safety protocols and often launched ad hominem attacks on Griffith and other school board members.
Griffith will leave the board at a time of uncertainty for district leadership.
Plus, the board is in the process of selecting a new superintendent since Superintendent Scott Bailey announced in November that he will retire at the end of this school year.
Griffith helped set the parameters of the superintendent search at a special board meeting convened on Jan. 11 with a human resources consultant.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to work toward and accomplish Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education’s board objectives over the last 13 years. I have been honored to serve our collective goals," Griffith wrote in announcing his resignation. "I will support the Desert Sands Unified School District when and where I can in the future.”
Griffith's resignation has been accepted by board president Ana Conover and is effective Jan. 18 — the same day he will assume duties of his new position as California Superior Court Commissioner.
"It has been an honor to share the dais with Don. His counsel and his opinions have been instrumental in formulating board policy. The other board members join me in wishing him the very best in his new endeavor as we thank him for his service," Conover said.
Bailey added: “Mr. Griffith's tireless service to Desert Sands students, staff, and parents deserves applause. He has remained steadfast in his dedication to build a better tomorrow for the community. He will be missed.”
Court commissioners are appointed by majority vote of the county's judges.
Griffith is a practicing family law attorney and has had a private practice since 1995. He served on the Desert Bar Association Board of Trustees from 2001 to 2010, acting as president from October 2008 to October 2009.
Previously, Griffith spent nine years as a middle school teacher, including three at Palm Desert Middle School. Prior to his election to the Desert Sands board, he had served on the Washington Charter School Governing Board from 2000 to 2002.
He is a resident of Indian Wells where his wife, Donna, servers as mayor pro tem on the city council.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Jonathan Horwitz covers education for The Desert Sun. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @Writes_Jonathan.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Don Griffith to resign from Desert Sands school board to accept appointment as California Superior Court commissioner