PRINCIPAL SUES MUSD, RILEY — Ripperdan Elementary School Principal Jean Belanger has filed a $500,000 lawsuit against Madera Unified School District and Superintendent Tom Riley. Belanger, who will be demoted to the classroom at the end of the school year, claimed in her suit that MUSD treats its female administrators differently on account of their gender. The suit claims troubles for Belanger started in 1986-87 when Assistant Superintendent John Cruz gave her “explicit instructions” not to renew the probationary contract of kindergarten teacher Barbara Jean Smith. Belanger claims this action “resulted in foreseeable resentment and antagonism” toward her by some teachers. In June 1988, Riley conducted a written performance of Belanger, criticizing her for the hard feelings among the teachers.
BOARD WON’T FINANCE FIREFIGHTER DINNER — Supervisors appear to be ready to recognize the efforts of the county’s volunteer firefighters, but they aren’t all fired up over the idea of throwing them a dinner with taxpayers’ money. The board was asked by Forestry Fire Chief Gary Gilbert to spend $3,000 for a recognition dinner. Gilbert said $1,350 would go for the food with the rest to be used for certificates, plaques, and supplies. No supervisors were willing to support allocating money for the dinner. Supervisor Gail Hanhart McIntyre said she would rather see the money spent on safety equipment. Supervisor Harry Baker said he would be willing to chip in money from the new board salary increase to finance the dinner.
DEPARTMENT HEADS MAY BE EVALUATED BY BOARD — Appointed county department heads may soon be required to go through a job evaluation by the board of supervisors. Supervisor Rick Jensen presented the board with a number of evaluations now in use by other counties. County Engineer Dowe Stinson said, “Any general direction from the board would be a godsend. I personally have no aversion to being measured against any stick the board stands up, as long as it realizes we have limited funds and personnel.” Gene Gerrard, head of the Probation Department, agreed with the need for an evaluation process. “Any employee likes to know from the boss how they are doing,” he said. No evaluation procedure is in place now for department heads.
INTERIM DIRECTOR TAKES OVER MADERA HOUSING AUTHORITY — A retired housing manager for the City of Fresno, Roy H. Blackburn, was appointed to the helm of Madera’s subsidized housing programs in the wake of the firing of longtime head Lydia Gomez. Gomez is on administrative leave until April 1 and arrived to clear her desk and say goodbye to staff on March 14. “I would like to say for the record that all of my rights as an employee of the Housing Authority of the City of Madera have been violated,” said Gomez, who added she will take her case to legal counsel. City Council members Margaret Medellin and Alan Brown have been directing the housing authority since Gomez’ firing...