With all of the recent bungling, miscommunication, and incompetence on Bear St., it’s easy to forget some of the lingering issues facing the administration and the school board club.

Chief among the forgotten issues is area representation. Under the current system, each of the seven school board club member is elected by all of the voters in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. According to a threatened lawsuit, this has prevented, for example, a Latino representative from ever being elected to a seat on the board. The issue is under review but it is important to keep it alive – to let the bureaucrats know that it has not been forgotten because that’s what they count on.

The other forgotten issue is a lawsuit that is not threatened, but actual. Two long time district employees, Laura Boss and Ann Huntington, are suing the district alleging, according to the Daily Pilot, “…that [Supt. Frederick Navarro] created a workplace culture of fear and intimidation that compelled them to leave their jobs after the board of education failed to investigate their claims.”

Other excerpts from the Pilot story:

“The lawsuit, and another terminated employee who is also suing, claim that many of the allegedly “hostile” interactions with the superintendent occurred during weekly executive cabinet meetings.”

“Relationships that had been strong were ripped apart because the seeds of fear and intimidation were planted internally.”

“The lawsuit, and another terminated employee who is also suing, claim that many of the allegedly “hostile” interactions with the superintendent occurred during weekly executive cabinet meetings.”

“‘[Boss and Huntington] were also denied important information, their advice and input was ignored, and they were put on the spot and embarrassed by Navarro in front of colleagues during meetings,’ the lawsuit states.”

And what did the brave members of the school board club do when they learned of the lawsuit? They did the same thing they did in October, 2014 – 16 months earlier than when the lawsuit was filed – when Boss, Huntington and [former employee John Caldecott] “joined in a formal complaint to the school board against Navarro, where they claimed a toxic work environment.”

They did the same thing they did when Caldecott was recommended for termination by Navarro and Caldecott requested a hearing to tell his side of the story.

They did nothing.

Their bad judgment in October, 2014 and in January, 2015 when Caldecott was fired has led to the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars in legal fees – money that club member Judy Franco would probably agree is money that should have gone to the education of our children.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t work hard and pay my property taxes so that it can be thrown away down a legal rat hole by people with extremely poor judgment.

There’s more to the Boss-Huntington lawsuit, which you can read here:http://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-dpt-me-0130-navarro-lawsuit-20160129-story.html

But come next month, despite all of his bad judgment and costly mistakes – the most recent of which is the money spent to erect then remove the giant poles at Estancia – Navarro will get a raise and praise and a contract extension next month.

Part of me is hoping that he gets a giant raise – a big fat one – and that his contract is not extended just a year as the club has been doing for supers and others for too long, but for many years. Pile it on! Hand over more tax dollars so that when election day comes around in November, these decisions will give voters enough of a reason to get some new blood on the board.

In the meantime, there are other problems for the administration and the school board club to handle.

Chief among them is the fate of Swun math, that program that is so adored by teachers, parents, and students. Not.

Tonight, the school board club will presented with both a “Report on Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium” and an “Update on Elementary Math Pilot & Swun Math Contract.” There are no recommendations tonight, only reports. Why? Because making recommendations means actually putting a stake in the ground on Swun Math and the school board club doesn’t want to do that right now because either way, they look bad. If they choose to dump Swun Math, they place egg squarely on the face of the superintendent, who is about the only person left championing the Swun cause. And how would it look if they voted to dump it after three years and then turned around and gave him his raise and contract extension next month? Not too smart.

On the other hand, if they vote to keep it, they risk the wrath of an unprecedented coalition of teachers and parents who have teed up an alternative program to begin in January.

So instead of decision-making, taxpayers get reports and updates in the hope that they can stall this decision until after election day.

It’s business as usual on Bear St.

The school board club meeting starts at 6 tonight – 2985 Bear St. in Costa Mesa. If you go, please show union support by wearing blue.

Steve Smith

 

 

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