According to court records, both sides in Caldecott vs. N-MUSD were to have met two days ago in a “Case Management Conference.” According to uslegal.com, a Case Management Conference is, “… a meeting between the judge and the parties (the Plaintiff and the Defendant). The lawyers representing the parties may also appear at the conference. A case management conference usually happens after a plaintiff begins a law suit, but before the trial. The meeting is not a trial and as such witnesses don’t need to be present. The main purpose of the meeting is to try settling some or all of the issues in dispute before going to trial. If no settlement is achieved at the CMC, the matter will proceed to trial.”
In this case, Judge Geoffrey T. Glass has several options. But since none of them are as interesting as the judge wanting to take a deep dive into the documents that Caldecott wants to be made public, let’s go there.
In this scenario, Glass keeps alive the possibility that these documents may have information in which the public interest trumps anyone’s right to privacy, that is, perhaps he has decided to take a good look and determine whether there is evidence of financial improprieties. In that case, there is a duty to report this possibility to another authority. Which authority is not clear, but let’s keep assuming and figure that the seven Trustees of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District need to know. (If you have assumed that they already know because Supt. Navarro disclosed the accusations when he made his case to fire Caldecott, please contact me asap as I have a beautiful bridge in Brooklyn for sale, cheap.)
In that case, the Trustees are forced to review what they should have looked at the first time and then determine:
a) Whether disciplinary action is warranted (if there is evidence of improprieties)
b) Whether Caldecott was fired without due process (if there is evidence of improprieties)
c) Whether to report this to another authority (if there is evidence of improprieties)
d) How to spin this so they don’t look incompetent
These would be difficult things for the board to do because it would mean admitting that they did a lot of things wrong. And as you know, the school board does not readily admit that they screwed up.
That would be the right thing to do. But when egos and reputations are involved, doing the right thing is not always done, even though that is what we teach our kids to do.
Back to the conference and our – OK, my – ruminations. So the judge looks at the documents and in a specified period, he has to make a decision. Since he knows that Caldecott has waived his right to privacy, there are only the other district employees mentioned in the documents for whom he has to be concerned.
Which leads us back to the questions I have been asking for months: If there is evidence in the documents that indicate a further investigation is warranted, does that overrule an employees right to privacy? And if there is such evidence, can names be redacted for the purposes of allowing taxpayers to know that there may be some improprieties? And, finally, if there is evidence of improprieties, to which agency or agencies should this be reported and whose responsibility is it to do so?
This case long ago stopped being about a disgruntled employee seeking revenge on a boss and school board that fired him without the hearing he was promised (remember that Caldecott raised his concerns four months before his termination). And it long ago stopped being a whistleblower case. The truth is, it never was either of those in the first place.
This case has been, and will always be, the pursuit of the public disclosure as to whether the superintendent has committed any financial improprieties. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. But taxpayers deserve to know that the proper legal authorities have determined this, one way or the other.