… Well, you know by now: Past behavior is the best predictor of future performance.

So it came as no surprise that former N-MUSD human resources guru John Caldecott is once again facing resistance to his most recent records requests. Since Caldecott started exposing what the district does not want you to know, they have lost every challenge and have spent over $158,000 of your tax dollars in the process. That’s money that could have gone to increased compensation for teachers and classifieds or to – gasp! – improving the education of our students (School board club member Judy Franco said 20+ years ago about money that was embezzled that it could have gone to educate our children. These legal fees also could have gone to educate our children. Instead, your tax dollars are being used to fight every Caldecott records request, even though there is enough history and precedent to see that there is a high likelihood that the requests will be granted.)

So why does the district keep wasting your tax dollars on this? There are several reasons:

  1. It’s what they have always done over the years.
  2. They are not held financially accountable.
  3. There is a budget for legal fees so that makes it OK. (It doesn’t.)
  4. There is no incentive to save money. The district will get fully funded next year without having to lift a finger to show any attempts at saving money.
  5. They don’t like John Caldecott. John is rocking the bureaucratic boat.

There is a way to stop the Caldecott records requests, save taxpayer dollars, and restore some integrity to the school board club. It’s easy and free but it takes courage on the part of the school board club so don’t hold your breath.

This time around, Caldecott has filed three records requests, the details of which you can read on his website by clicking HERE.

The one of most interest to me is this one:

“[A request] for contracts and payments to Nicole Miller and Associates, the investigation firm used on the Mariners Elementary School Gold Ribbon investigation dating back to 4/1/16.  The public has an interest in outcome of this high profile investigation.  This is a preliminary request to examine the contractual relationship between NMUSD and Nicole Miller and Associates.”

I don’t know if there’s any conflict with this investigative firm. My concern was that because they have ongoing business with the district, that puts them within arms length of the people who make the vendor decisions and that to remove any hint of impartiality, another company should have been chosen. This protects the reputations and future business dealings of both the firm and the district.

But the folks on Bear St. did what they’ve always done and stayed in their comfort zone. Past behavior is the best predictor of future performance.

Caldecott’s records requests are not the only substantial legal fees the district is paying right now.

Laura Boss and Ann Huntington, two former respected N-MUSD employees, are “… suing the school district and superintendent, alleging that he 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.” (LA Times 1/29/16)

Here’s the full Pilot story: http://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-dpt-me-0130-navarro-lawsuit-20160129-story.html

So how do these types of lawsuits get started, anyway? The answer lies at the very top of the district chain with the school board club. Also from the 1/29 story:

“In October 2014, Boss, Huntington and Caldecott joined in a formal complaint to the school board against Navarro, where they claimed a toxic work environment. They claim in the lawsuit that the school board did not investigate their allegations.”

“In January 2015, Navarro allegedly waved his hands and shouted at Boss during a meeting in front of her peers. Caldecott reported the incident to the board, but no action was taken, court papers state.”

And you may recall that all John Caldecott wanted initially was to address the board to tell them his side of the story but they refused. Had they given Caldecott his day in court, they may have avoided the expensive days in court for which you are now paying.

The school board club has repeatedly refused to meet with disgruntled people or investigate credible allegations of wrongdoing – credible because they were made by respected employees – and so these people had no recourse but to sue.

So if you want the source of all of this wasted tax money and district resources, look no further than the school board club.

One of Caldecott’s other requests is to learn more about the financial arrangements between the district and former Deputy Supt. Paul Reed, whom they paid not to retire. This made me wonder… If the new guy turns out to be more effective than Reed, do we get our money back?

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD