In his March 27 edition of District Office To Staff (DOTS), out-of-town Superintendent Fred Navarro (he lives in Long Beach), wrote extensively about a recent story in the Daily Pilot “regarding the development of a certificated seniority list in our district” and about “erroneous statements made during public comment at the March 24, Board meeting suggesting that the District is preparing this list for a layoff.” You can read the whole thing below, or you can read my completely unbiased and impartial reaction that follows.  ; )

Here ‘ya go:

Let’s assume for the moment that everything The Out-Of-Town Superintendent (TOOTS) wrote is true. And let’s assume that the passage “We do not anticipate a layoff anytime in the near future” is not meant to contain the “out” should layoffs do happen. (“Hey! I wrote ‘anticipate’ and I wrote ‘near future!'”)

And let’s assume for the moment that TOOTS did not appear to put all the blame for the seniority fiasco on ex-HR chief John Caldecott.

Even if we assume all of this to be true, it does not address the larger issue at stake: TOOTS does not like to engage in meaningful dialog. This divisive, destructive management style has been apparent to me at multiple board meetings and now supported by the information in this newsletter.

TOOTS had a perfect opportunity to engage the public comments speaker at the 3/24 meeting. Instead, that person, an executive with the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers was addressed moments before the close of the meeting when it was the time in the agenda for TOOTS to offer his comments. No response was able to be made because, IMO, TOOTS wasn’t interested in hearing one. He wanted the final word and assumed that the whole thing was over because he had spoken

And even though the Daily Pilot has a very liberal comments/reply policy and IMO would gladly have printed a lengthier response as a Commentary column, there was neither a reply nor a column.

“I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you la la la la la…”

(image source:

Experienced managers are probably already way ahead of me. They know that had there been some sort of reply at the meeting and in the paper, the way secure, transparent leadership is conducted, the message in the newsletter either may not have been needed, or it would have been dramatically different – more positive and reassuring.

Instead, TOOTS defaulted to a cheap shot with finger-pointing and blame placing, laying, seemingly, all the woes at the feet of a guy who is no longer employed at the district and as such has fewer opportunities to protect his reputation. John Caldecott is no longer there – he was fired shortly after pointing out what he believed were financial improprieties.

That type of leadership does not foster an engaged, motivated team, it supports an atmosphere of gossip, whispers, and innuendo. The folks who work for the N-MUSD are smart and they know if TOOTS will throw an ex-employee under the bus, again, anyone is fair game.

(image source:

I heard a rumor that the Staff is preparing its own reply via a newsletter that will be called “Staff To Office Personnel,” or, – wait for it – STOP.