The N-MUSD Board of Trustees and I disagree on what makes a good leader. They have rated the superintendent’s performance as “excellent,” when I would have rated it “poor.”

The list of the various problems have faced under this superintendent includes but is not limited to:

CdM cheating scandal – Taxpayers still have not been told what measures, if any, have been taken to prevent a reoccurrence.

Prom draft – When this national news story broke, the superintendent let subordinates do the talking. That’s not what a strong leader does.

Estancia poles – First there are no poles, then there are, then there aren’t. And it all started with the poor decision to place solar panels in an area known to be a magnet for baseballs hit from the adjacent field. Who paid the price? Not the superintendent – he hasn’t said a word. Once again, taxpayers paid for this blunder.

“Dump Trump” – Caught in a potential free speech confrontation, the district told a student to change his t-shirt, then decided it was OK to wear. No word from the superintendent, who let the school principal take the heat on this one.

Bloated bureaucracy – He hired them, you’re paying for them. In the meantime, the district will cry poor in the upcoming negotiations for additional teacher compensation.

Rats in 2 schools – The district has a budget of approximately $262 million dollars and is further supported by nearly half a billion in bonds, yet, at least two schools have had major rat infestations, one so bad that the OC Health Dept. closed a portion of one school.

Intoxicated kids at football game – What has been done? Where is the super’s take on this one? Good luck with that…

Lawsuits – One is by two respected former employees who are claiming the equivalent of a hostile work environment.

Low employee morale – This is due in part to the leadership at the top. When the top person in any organization consistently refuses to watch the backs of his or her staff, the result it an “every man for himself” approach to work.

Swun math – Despite what will be attempts by the district to claim ownership of the end of Swun math, it is due to a core of tenacious parents and teachers. The super should have either never allowed it in classrooms or stopped it once the complaints started rolling in, which was not longer after the program was introduced.

And though this is a partial list, there is one standout…

The Mariners Gold Ribbon application debacle is a perfect example of poor district leadership. The approach this time was to stall, stifle, and stymie, then throw someone under the bus. The real truth of the matter is that this entire mess is the responsibility of the superintendent.

When you review this list, plus a few more entries, one trait emerges loudly and clearly:
The superintendent is either unable or unwilling to take responsibility for anything that goes wrong on his watch. That’s not what good, strong leaders do.

We don’t have a good, strong leader, yet, despite being in charge of the most problem-ridden era of any N-MUSD super I have seen, he was just given a merit bonus of $26K in a tax-deferred annuity and will get a raise after today’s special meeting starting at 4:30 at Bear St.

Nice work if you can get it.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD