At the beginning of the board meeting of August 22, President Karen Yelsey read the following statement to a district employee:

“You’ve requested to address the board in open session to address the charges filed against you. The causes listed for your dismissal are:

  • Incompetency* 
  • Inefficiency* 
  • Insubordination
  • Inattention to or dereliction of duty* 
  • Discourteous treatment of the public or your fellow employees* 
  • And any other willful failure of good conduct intending to injure the public service, or willful, persistent violation of the provisions of the Ed Code, and/or rules, regulations or procedures adopted by the board of education or the personnel commission, and dishonesty and the charges relate to your inappropriate and harassing conduct.*

“The specifics are provided in the statement of charges, which has been provided to you and is available here for review.”

“The board has reviewed the charges and you will have up to 10 minutes to address the board at this time. As stated in the notice that was provided to you with the statement of charges, the board will deliberate on the charges in closed session.”

Some pretty serious, charges, wouldn’t you agree?

The employee got up and spoke but I had not yet arrived and did not hear what he had to say, nor did I listen to his comments when I reviewed the archived video of the meeting.

I didn’t listen because my focus was on the clear evidence of injustice against a different employee a few years ago.

As I’ve written countless times, ex-HR head John Caldecott was fired by Supt. Navarro via text and e-mail after ten years of exemplary service to the taxpayers of Newport-Mesa. Caldecott was fired not long after he started asking questions about specific financial maneuvers undertaken by the district.

At the time, Caldecott requested time to speak before the board to address the charges against him, just as this fellow did last month. So why did this guy get ten minutes to address the board while Caldecott was denied the same right?:

Because there is injustice in the district, that’s why. Serious injustice, in fact, and it has been going on for a long time. Not long ago, they had to have the threat of an expensive an embarrassing lawsuit to fix a violation of the California Voting Rights Act that has been ongoing for 16 years.

Had the board allowed Caldecott to speak – which is all he ever wanted on his way out the door – the district could have avoided prolonged and expensive legal battles fighting Caldecott’s repeated requests for documents.

You and I would have allowed Caldecott to speak because, just like this guy on August 22, everyone should have their day in court. Everyone except John Caldecott. That was justice denied and yet another example of the inconsistent application of district policies and procedures.

Oh, and those asterisks after most of the charges listed above? Just as in the Caldecott case, I am declaring the district guilty of those charges without a hearing.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD