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Reports say Gonzalez to be let go as Madera schools chief

Madera Unified Superintendent Ed Gonzalez has reportedly been told that the school board is releasing him.

According to Associate Superintendent Victor Villar and other members of the MUSD administration, Gonzalez invited district personnel to a brief meeting in the boardroom at the end of the day Monday and told them he was being released by the board “without cause.”

Villar said the meeting lasted about five minutes. Other sources said the employees appeared stunned and did not question Gonzalez when he invited them to do so.

According to Villar, Gonzalez did not indicate when his termination would become effective. Neither did he address the topic of a severance package, according to the report.

Gonzalez told The Tribune that Board President Al Galvez informed him on Friday, Feb. 3, that the board intended to release him “from his duties as superintendent.” According to Gonzalez, Galvez asked him if he would be willing to enter into negotiations with the board regarding the terms of his separation.

Gonzalez indicated he would have to retain counsel to consider his “professional options.”

Galvez on Tuesday would neither confirm nor deny that Gonzalez was being let go. Galvez told the Tribune the board had taken no reportable action in the pending release of Gonzalez. And, Galvez further said that no comment concerning the termination of employees is allowed due to personnel matters.

School superintendents who are fired without cause are entitled to be compensated for whatever time remains on their contracts unless a different amount is negotiated with the governing board. Gonzalez has almost a year and a half remaining on his contract, which expires on June 30, 2018. His annual salary is $204,000.

MUSD trustees have not taken action in a public session to terminate Gonzalez, although he has been evaluated by the board in closed session 15 times since January 2016.

At a board meeting held last Tuesday, Jan. 31, Gonzalez was evaluated in closed session. However, at 6 p.m. he was seated in the boardroom while the board held its executive session in another room.

Gonzalez’ first contract with Madera Unified ran from Aug. 1, 2013, to June 30, 2016. In June 2014, he received a satisfactory evaluation and an automatic, one-year extension of his contract to June 30, 2017.

In June 2015, Gonzalez received his second evaluation, which indicated that he “needed to improve.” This meant that he was denied another one-year extension, holding the ending date of his contract at June 30, 2017.

Gonzalez refused to sign this contract, as did trustees Ric Arredondo, Ed McIntyre, and Ray Seibert.

In October 2015, however, the board revisited Gonzalez’ contract by extending it to June 30, 2018, and giving him a pay raise.

Trustee Brent Fernandes commented at the time, “With this contract extension, I would like to make it known to the community that we are making a commitment to the superintendent to 2018, and with this commitment, I would hope that any rumors or innuendoes about us terminating the superintendent will finally cease and desist, and I would also like the superintendent, with this contract amendment, to make a commitment to this board as a whole, to work with all of us and to his best ability to work with all of us. I think he has done a better job, and I think we have done a better job of working with him, so I just want to make it known that this is a commitment to the superintendent, and (I want) the community to know that we are making that commitment.”


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