County Office of Education announces death of former superintendent

Joseph A. Ovick, Ed.D.
Joseph A. Ovick, Ed.D.

The Contra Costa County Office of Education sadly announced today that former Superintendent of Schools Joseph A. Ovick, Ed.D., died unexpectedly, early Thursday (March 30) morning. Dr. Ovick served as the County Superintendent of Schools from 1996-2014.

Dr. Ovick was an educator for 45 years. He began his career as a Special Education teacher in Santa Clara County, followed by serving in the county as a public school assistant principal, principal, and Director of Special Education. He later joined the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), where he worked as Director of Special Education, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, and Associate Superintendent for Business. 

In 1996, he began his service as the elected County Superintendent of schools. He was well known for developing strong coalitions of educators, community members, and legislators in support of public schools, while always making it a point to visit countless classrooms throughout the county.

“Dr. Ovick was a true champion of students and schools during his 45 years as an educator,” said Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools, Karen Sakata. “He was a wonderful friend and mentor to me, beginning back in our early days working in Santa Clara County. This is truly a sad day for our agency, our county and the education community.”

Dr. Ovick taught at Chapman University’s Graduate School of Education and San Jose State University for a number of years, with a curriculum emphasis on school law, finance, and leadership. Besides holding many leadership roles in statewide and local education organizations and commissions, Dr. Ovick served on the Board of Directors of the East Bay Leadership Council and the Contra Costa County Children and Families Policy Forum. In 2012, he served as president of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, where he continued to serve on their executive board after his retirement.

In addition, Dr. Ovick was the former chair of the Bay Area Leadership Foundation; the Federal Policy & Legislation Committee for the Council of Administrators for Special Education; former vice-chair of the Federal Advocacy for California Education; past-president of Association of California School Administrators, Region 6; and former chair of the Bay Area Region Superintendents Association.

In 2005, Dr. Ovick was awarded the President’s Circle Award for Outstanding Service to Education and the Community from the Diablo Valley College Foundation, as well as the Government Service Award in Recognition of Outstanding Community Service from Congressman George Miller. In 2008, the East Bay Leadership Foundation named Dr. Ovick Citizen of the Year, East Bay Awards. In 2006, he won the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), Region 6, Superintendent of the Year Award, and in 2010 he earned the ACSA, Region 6, Ferd Kiesel Memorial Distinguished Service Award. 

Additionally, in 2008, the Contra Costa County Board of Education unanimously voted to honor Dr. Ovick by dedicating CCCOE’s community school in Brentwood as the “Joseph A. Ovick School.” The Board said that the dedication was made because he was a longtime advocate for the addressing the needs of all students – especially those most at risk and with special needs.

Community service was also an important part of Dr. Ovick’s life.  He was an active member of the Pleasant Hill Rotary Club and served as a member on both the local Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs and Junior Achievement USA.

Dr. Ovick leaves behind a rich legacy of leadership and advocacy on behalf of children and families.  The County Superintendent and staff of the CCCOE offer their sincere condolences to Dr. Ovick’s family, relatives and many friends.

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