EDUCATION MATTERS: McClain’s lawsuit and the election

Marsha Sutton

By Marsha Sutton
Contributor

Three candidates for the Del Mar Union School District’s Board of Education – Kristin Gibson, Doug Rafner and Scott Wooden – are running together as a slate. Their positions diverge on some issues but run parallel on many others.

According to their Web sites, all three seem to be backed by the same supporters, many of whom were ardent defenders of former superintendent Tom Bishop.

Some of these supporters’ names go back more than four years, when Bishop lost control of his board in the 2006 election after taking criticism for a number of issues, including: holding too many unwarranted closed-session meetings regarding the Shores property, an association with the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation that was too close for legal comfort, negotiating the prep-time deal with the teachers which affected the funding of the district’s Extended Studies Curriculum program, and allowing bitterness and division to emerge and fester among parents and district employees.

Many of these slate supporters are also staunchly behind another former DMUSD superintendent, Sharon McClain. Released earlier this year, McClain has filed a lawsuit against the district over the firing and has made it clear that she’s interested in a settlement (a shakedown?) once a new board is seated. Her attorney has publicly stated he wants the case resolved in a business-like fashion rather than proceed to court. If elected, how will these three individuals, running as a slate, regard the case?

New trustees find themselves in a different role, once on the inside, as guardians of the district’s money and protectors of taxpayer interests. If elected, could Gibson, Rafner and Wooden exercise objective judgment of the case on its true merits and resist any subtle pressure from supporters who are helping to get them elected?

Since no one knows – except the five current board members – what the reasons were for releasing McClain, why do so many assume she was treated wrongfully? Could there not have been legitimate grounds for dismissal? How would we know? How does anyone claim to know? Is it not possible that those who side with McClain are simply siding against a school board they do not like?

I’m not defending this board. McClain could have clear grounds for her suit, and the board does appear to have mishandled the situation. The board certainly chose to hire her, and for that its members are responsible. And they could have let her go within the first year when it clearly wasn’t working.

So the school board is guilty of bad judgment in selecting her in the first place when the fit wasn’t right, and for drawing out the dismissal for months and months until it became a public circus. But we should hesitate to embrace the popular position that McClain was mistreated and deserved to keep her job, without knowing the reasons behind the dismissal.

It would be truly astonishing if, as McClain claims, the board never informed her of the reasons why she was fired. The legal requirement for privacy of all personnel matters has kept the public in the dark regarding the district’s side of the dispute. So will we ever know the cause – or even whether there was one?

Hopefully, this lawsuit will reveal pertinent information and allow community members to form their own opinions based on more than wishes and rumors. But that may only happen if the case proceeds to court. If there is a settlement, we will never know. All we’ll gather from a settlement is the appearance of school district culpability.

For the good of the district and its bottom line, let’s hope new board members can objectively consider the case without bias or undue pressure from backers, and keep the district’s financial interests foremost in their minds.

An aggressive defense against this suit may lead not only to the retention of the money McClain is demanding but also the potential recovery of sizeable attorneys’ fees. On the other hand, the district’s case may stand on shaky ground, and a settlement is the best we can hope for. Those tantalizing closed-session facts will tell the story … and wouldn’t the truth be nice to know?

Related posts:

  1. Attorneys for former Superintendent McClain send letter to school board
  2. Risk outweighs reward of potential McClain lawsuit
  3. Attorney: Board is now moving forward ‘optimistically’
  4. EDUCATION MATTERS: Gambling on the slate
  5. EDUCATION MATTERS: Can we withhold judgment?

Short URL: http://www.delmartimes.net/?p=176

Posted by Halie Johnson on Oct 22, 2010. Filed under Education Matters. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Archives

Facebook

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

LA JOLLA NEWS

RSS LA JOLLA NEWS

  • La Jolla Library welcomes new chief Shaun Briley
    For La Jolla Riford Library’s new head librarian, Shaun Briley, books have been a part of his life and career, in some form or another, every step of the way. […]
  • Tangerine trees, marmalade skies for Beatles-inspired Patrons of the Prado gala in Balboa Park, San Diego
    “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was the theme of the Patrons of the Prado gala on July 12, 2014 in Balboa Park, San Diego. Beatles-inspired music came from Wayne Foster Entertainment. Sandy Redman and Jeanne Jones served as event chairs. 2014’s beneficiaries are the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego Museum of Art and The Old Globe Theatre. […]
  • La Jolla’s Best Bets for events July 31- Aug. 7
    Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) offers a crash course in starting a photography collection 6 p.m. Thursday Aug. 7. at the Ligne Roset Showroom, 7726 Girard Ave. MOPA assistant curator Chantel Paul and director of jdc Fine Art Jennifer DeCarlo will share professional insights. […]

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RSS RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

  • It’s no stretch for Rancho Santa Fe yoga instructor to ‘give back’
    As one of North County’s most prolific yoga instructors, Stacy McCarthy doesn’t just teach yoga, she lives the yoga lifestyle. Selfless service, or seva in Sanskrit, is an important concept of yoga — one that the Rancho Santa Fe resident practices daily. “When we give and we give from the heart, there’s nothing more gratifying than that,” McCarthy said. […]
  • Rancho Santa Fe resident’s Gen 7 wines earn top honors
    Rancho Santa Fe resident Tim Bacino’s Gen 7 Wines is on a hot streak, his varietals winning several awards this summer in California wine competitions. […]
  • Torrey Pines High School baseball alum Taylor Murphy excelling in pro ball
    It was during a breakout senior year at Torrey Pines High that Taylor Murphy first popped up on the radar of professional scouts. Shortly after graduation, Murphy was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round of the June 2011 amateur draft. He declined, honoring a commitment to the University of the Pacific. Three years later, Murphy got another sho […]