SANTA MONICA—Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Ben Drati announced on Friday, November 18, that he would be stepping down from his position after six years.

In his announcement, he noted that he will be joining a nearby district in January 2023. He was recently appointed Superintendent of Bellflower Unified School District. He highlighted some of the district’s accomplishments since his hiring which included parent participation with staff and administrations, commitment to identity practices, facility improvements and modernization and student health and wellness programs.

According to some of Drati’s colleagues his resignation was unexpected. SMMUSD Board Member Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein told the Santa Monica Daily Press, “I did not see this coming,” after he read Drati’s announcement. He also told the news outlet that hiring Drati was one of the best decisions he ever made. 

The Board of Education will be participating in a meeting on Tuesday, November 29, to decide who should be appointed as the district’s new superintendent. It is unclear if there will be an interim superintendent. 

“I realize this is unexpected. I want to let you know that I have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated serving as the Superintendent of SMMUSD and will always cherish my time here,” Drati said. “I will continue to root for and support the journey you have embarked on, and my family and I thank you for six great years of educating our students and preparing them for college and career.”