The complete quote is, “Navarro is a loose cannon and staff members are suffering from powder burns, not to mention those who took direct hits by the cannon balls.”

You’ll see this comment and many more just like it when you read the comments section of the Daily Pilot story on the filing of a new lawsuit against the N-MUSD. You’ll also see a couple of feeble attempts to turn the attention away from Navarro. Accusing the accusers is standard operating procedure in cases such as this.

The same person who wrote the “loose cannon” reference also wrote, “Caldecott is literally blowing the top off what is a serious problem surrounding Navarro’s condescending, bullying, fear mongering leadership style.

You can read the comments after the story here: http://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-dpt-me-0130-navarro-lawsuit-20160129-story.html

When I ran for a school board seat in 2014, I was invited to a meeting to learn the structure of the district. Most of the trustees were there, as was Navarro. The candidates in attendance were told that the district employees work for the superintendent and the superintendent works for the trustees.

But that’s not how it works on a daily basis: The school board works for the superintendent and the rest of the administration. Recommendations are rarely challenged and when they are, the challenges are weak. Even more rare is a vote by the majority of the board against a staff recommendation.

I would have had very little power – none, really – as a school board member, but I would have had a voice. And as we have seen over the past year, one voice – John Caldecott’s – can have a tremendous impact.

So far, however, Caldecott’s case and the new lawsuit filed by former district employees Laura Boss and Ann Huntington, have translated in zero changes in the district or on the board. It is still business as usual on Bear St. and as I have written countless times, it will continue to remain business as usual until the district and/or board are forced by law to change.

What we are starting to see is the beginning of the venting process. Current and former district employees are starting to see some hope that the employment atmosphere will change and they are starting to speak up, if only anonymously at this time. This is a good development, to be sure, but I caution anyone who believes that change will take place by some epiphany to keep their hopes in check: Nothing will change unless the district and/or board are forced by law to make the changes. I will keep writing this until everyone understands that no victory has yet been achieved and that this is a long road.

I know this because past behavior is a good predictor of future performance. And in the 30 years I have lived in the area, I cannot recall a single time in which the board took any substantive action in a controversy without having been forced to do so. My most vivid memory is of the outrageous behavior at CdM High several years ago that was corrected only when the ACLU intervened.

Despite the headlines and the increased noise level over allegations of a hostile work environment, taxpayers get only tepid, carefully constructed responses from anyone on the board. There is no defense from the board, no commentary in the Daily Pilot or anywhere else explaining a position, and no call by any of the trustees for an investigation into the charges. Why? Because they don’t have to, that’s why. In the past, they have remained silent, circled the wagons, and waited out the controversy. It always worked in the past and they are expecting that it will work again this time.

What is most important to remember now is that the value of that noise level is the same value I place on this blog, which I’ve been writing for about 18 months. That value is letting the bureaucrats know that there is a least one person in the area who sees through their complacency, their ineffectiveness, and their indifference to taxpayers and the rank and file district staff.

Now, however, there are more voices. It will take many more and a long time before any changes take place. In the end, all I really want, and all I believe the taxpayers of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa really want, is honesty, transparency, and accountability.

We don’t believe that’s too much to ask.
Steve Smith

 

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