Del Mar Union School District gets heat over resignation

Ocean Air Elementary School parents and staff members roasted the Del Mar Union School District Board of Trustees at their Nov. 18 meeting about the sudden resignation of Principal Gary Wilson. In a meeting attended by more than 100 people, one parent said the unexpected uproar was like walking into the Boston Symphony and finding a Metallica concert instead.

There were tears and strong words as parents and teachers blamed the board for letting Wilson walk and accept a position as superintendent of the San Pasqual Union School District.

Teachers wore black and held up photos of Wilson’s face; many broke into tears and emotions ran high.

Kindergarten teacher Meg Jackson made a passionate plea for her principal. She said in her more than 30 years in education, she has never spoken before a school board about an issue but that she has “never come across a board that is so hostile and antagonistic.”

Jackson said the board does not support teachers and staff members and has allowed Ocean Air to be without necessary books and supplies.

“I don’t think we should be losing people like Gary Wilson, I think we should be losing people like you,” Jackson told the board.

She said she thinks the board’s lack of support and micromanaging drove Wilson to leave.

At a school event last Friday, Wilson told parents that rumors swirl and he is not leaving because he is upset.

“We’re all sad that Gary is leaving,” board President Katherine White said. “Gary resigned, and there’s not much we can do when an employee resigns.”

Darlene Nadlonek, district personnel technician, said the district can’t stop someone from resigning.

“You sure can’t if you don’t try!” shouted one parent in the audience.

Ocean Air teacher Jeff Bales said he has sadly watched as people such as former Superintendent Tom Bishop, Director of Curriculum Janet Bernard and Director of Facilities Rodger Smith left, or in Bishop’s case, were forced out. In February 2008, the school board bought out Bishop’s contract after he had served as superintendent for 10 years. The two board members who voted against Bishop’s removal, Linda Crawford and Janet Lamborghini, later resigned.

“How many key players are we going to lose?” Bales asked to a standing ovation.

Parent Betsy Mackey said she holds the board accountable for all those “linchpins” being pulled out.

“My heart aches because I don’t think people are replaceable,” Mackey said.

The district will hold a meeting at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 4 for parent and staff input on the new principal. Second-grade teacher Erica Bell will serve as the interim principal at Ocean Air.