The school board would have taxpayers believe that those of us who are critical of their waste, mismanagement, and inaction are loners – just one or two or even a small handful of malcontents who don’t want to see all of the wonderful, exciting, and fabulous things going on in the district.

I was characterized as such during my 2014 campaign and that is what the board would have you believe about John Caldecott. After all, if things were so bad, how come no one else has stepped forward?

No one has stepped forward because they fear retaliation and do not possess Caldecott’s determination to seek justice.

Until now.


The district is being sued by two respected former employees who are claiming more of the same things as Caldecott, that Superintendent Frederick Navarro is not a nice guy. Laura Boss and Ann Huntington are claiming all sorts of mean and nasty behavior, even hinting that Navarro delighted in the hostile environment he had created. The Daily Pilot has run the story, which you can read here:

So what does this mean to you? It means that more of your hard-earned tax dollars are going to be spent defending yet another lawsuit. (The Caldecott case has cost approximately $500,000.) It means that more and more, the school board is looking like they lack the judgment to select a superintendent and to act as stewards of a massive budget of approximately $262,000,000.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that Caldecott, Boss, and Huntington are paving the way for everyone else to come forward. They are laying the foundation for teachers to speak up without fear of retaliation and inspiring other employees to put an end to workplace harassment.

John Caldecott has posted the court documents related to the Boss/Huntington lawsuit on his website, which you can access here:

There are over 40 pages to the claim, many of which detail outrageous behavior that would make even a person with thick skin run for the hills. Here are a few nuggets:

“Thereafter, defendant NAVARRO engaged in conduct which created a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation among the executive personnel at defendant NMUSD.”

“Defendant Navarro’s conduct was outrageous and beyond all bounds of human decency in a civilized society.”

But wait, there’s more!

“Following the commencement of his employment, defendant NAVARRO put plaintiffs and other members of the executive personnel on notice of his dictatorial management style when he stated how he wished he could fire people because it would be ‘so much easier than working them out of the system.'”

But here’s the smoking gun that the Pilot did not report:

“On August 25, 2015, plaintiff Huntington wrote a letter to the [Trustees] outlining her complaints against Navarro and NMUSD and the reasons for her forced retirement.”

So, there it is: Before John Caldecott raised his hand to complain, Huntington did it. So when Caldecott requested time to talk to the board, not only did they ignore him, the voted unanimously to fire him, based on the very recommendation of the man who had by then been accused by TWO respected employees of creating a hostile work environment.

The board’s action is a new kind of stupid. It is irresponsible and is an act of such great injustice that they deserve to be sued.

OBTW, the Pilot also did not include that Boss and Huntington are now the second party in 2016 to file complaints with the Costa Mesa Police Dept. over alleged education code violations by Navarro and the NMUSD.

So what is the board’s response? The Pilot printed the following from “the district”…

“As this pending litigation, from two former employees, proceeds through the judicial system, we believe that the evidence and facts will clearly show that these allegations are unfounded.”

And what will the board do? Nothing. They won’t do anything except waste more tax dollars fighting another lawsuit because that is what they have done for decades. They will not do anything until they are forced by law to do so. We just saw evidence of that in the Caldecott case.

What SHOULD the board do? They should resign – all of them. Their credibility with the rank and file is at zero, they are irresponsible, and are no longer fit to run this district.

But they won’t resign. That would take a moral compass and theirs broke many years ago.

Steve Smith