Twin Rivers Unified School District, already facing a myriad of lawsuits, investigations into illegal conduct and a school board election in June, will now begin looking for a new leader.
Superintendent Frank Porter, 61, announced his plans to retire June 30, ending a 33-year career in education that began as a bus driver.
"This is something I've been thinking about for a while," Porter said Wednesday.
District trustees are calling for a statewide search, but will not select a new superintendent until after the June 5 election in which all the trustees but one face challengers.
Porter's retirement comes as the district is facing scrutiny from the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, the FBI and the state attorney general's office over a number of issues, including allegations that district police used state criminal justice computers to run hundreds of background checks on adult education students, as well as high school students.
The district also has been the target of a long-standing probe by the Sacramento County grand jury.
Porter said the district has been fully cooperative with the investigations and, in some cases, turned evidence over to other agencies during the district's internal review.
"We have discovered things that were clearly wrong in our Police Department, things that were breaking the law substantially," Porter said. "We thought our Police Department was a source of pride."
Porter said everything changed after intense community backlash surfaced in October, when a Twin Rivers officer was shot four times by a suspect who later died in the back of a Sacramento police patrol car of undetermined causes.
In the aftermath, North Sacramento area residents, particularly in Del Paso Heights, began expressing long-held frustrations with the Twin Rivers Police Department. Among the allegations were that Twin Rivers police were excessively towing vehicles for profit and were doing police work well beyond the scope of a school police force.
The school district put its police chief, Christopher Breck, on paid administrative leave in November. Breck remains on paid leave, as do several others in the department.
"There were things going on with the conduct of some of the officers I stress 'some' because we have dedicated officers in our department but we found some officers had conducted themselves in a way that would cause people to be distrustful," Porter said. "To heal this, we have to rebuild the trust. That will take some time."
Twin Rivers is also facing scrutiny over allegations district officials asked its Police Department to run background checks on adult education students when the program was moved to a shared site with a junior high.
District spokeswoman Trinette Marquis said Twin Rivers' policy is to run background checks on adults who spend more than 10 hours on a school campus.
Attorney general spokesman Nicholas Pacilio said the state allows for school districts to run background checks only on certificated and classified employees and volunteers.
Pacilio said without an "enabling code," districts can't run background checks on students, regardless of age.
Porter said internal investigations and an operational review of the Police Department are coming to a close.
"I think it's unfortunate that this becomes his legacy that there are all these investigations," said school board president Roger Westrup. "But, all in all, when you look at Frank's tenure, there are some very positive things."
He began his career as a bus driver and later became a teacher in the Buckeye Unified School District in El Dorado County.
Porter had been superintendent of the Rio Linda district for seven years when he got the Twin Rivers job in 2008. Rio Linda and three other districts Grant Joint Union, Del Paso Heights and North Sacramento merged in 2008 to create Twin Rivers.
The district has about 30,000 students pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Under Porter, the district created career academies at each high school and increased graduation rates and enrollment.
Porter said the unification was more difficult than he ever anticipated.
"We have struggled with a lot of things that had to be rebuilt," Porter said. "Now, at the end of my career, I'm rebuilding a police department. It's been a tough challenge."