Former N-MUSD HR head John Caldecott has filed a petition for “Writ of Mandate and Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, Pursuant to the California Public Records Act under the California Constitution.”

What that means to you and me is that Caldecott has twice requested an “investigation report regarding a discrimination complaint against a Board member by petitioner and another individual, and the petition was denied.”

Caldecott filed his first request for the “report regarding a discrimination complaint against Char[lene] Metoyer prepared by petitioner and Susan Astarita” on April 29, then made a second request on May 9. On May 23, the district denied the request citing “inapposite case authority purporting to justify the witholding of public records involving alleged misconduct by a public employee, where the privacy rights of the employee outweigh public interest in that case.”

That was the first time I’d seen the word “inapposite.” It means “not pertinent.” So it’s important to note a few things here:

  1. If Caldecott helped prepare the report, that means he was employed by the district as the head of human resources and Metoyer was the principal at Harbor View. John Caldecott helped prepare the report that he now seeks to make public so that you can have a complete picture of an elected official and make your subsequent voting decisions based on the information you are entitled to have. You may even decide that what Metoyer did is bad enough to initiate a recall. But according to the district, you are not entitled to have this information.
  2. The district does not deny the existence of the report resulting from an investigation into alleged discriminatory behavior by Metoyer.
  3. Even more of your hard-earned tax dollars are going to pay legal fees. This is money that school board club member Judy Franco said years ago about the millions embezzled by district employee Stephen Wagner, “… that was intended for the education of children.”
  4. Does Caldecott’s abrupt termination have anything to do with the report he helped prepare? Metoyer became a member of the school board club after the report was issued and before Caldecott was fired. She voted to fire him. Was this pay back for a Caldecott’s participation in what may be a potentially incriminating report? Shouldn’t she have recused herself from the voting to remove any perception that she was punishing him? Of course she should have – that would have been the proper thing to do. Does her failure to recuse herself mean that there could be another Caldecott lawsuit due to an improper voting process? I guess we’ll find out.

Now. let’s take this one step further. It is a fact that Metoyer was the subject of an investigation over alleged discrimination. She announced her retirement in August, 2012, which means that less than two years later she decided to run for a seat on the school board club. There is no evidence that she disclosed the investigation to the public. But did the rest of the board know? Was it the superintendent’s duty to report it to them and if he did, did they support her campaign anyway?

None of this is about Metoyer’s guilt or innocence. She may be innocent of any discrimination but that is not the point of Caldecott’s demand. This is a question of whether a significant investigation into the actions of someone who was then a high-ranking school administrator and who then became a school board club member should have been made public at the time and should be made public now so that taxpayers can decide her fate, either via recall or at the polls in the next election.

The filing of the writ ends Metoyer’s chances of owning the story. Anyone who finds out about Caldecott’s writ is more likely to assume that she is guilty of discrimination. If the report is never released, there will always be a cloud over her head. If it is released, regardless of the findings, taxpayers will ask why it was not released before. Anyway this goes, Metoyer loses because she was not forthcoming about the investigation.

So what did Metoyer do to warrant an investigation? Stay tuned.

I’ll leave you with this: I came across a statement Metoyer issued as she prepared to leave Harbor View. It contained the usual warm and fuzzy statements and ended with “Learn a lot and ask really good questions.”

I just asked a few really good questions in #4. I’ll bet she’s proud of me.

Steve Smith