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MUSD board accuses superintendent of bullying tactics

‘Gonzalez ignores trustees’

After more than a year of evaluating Ed Gonzalez in closed-session meetings, Madera Unified trustees are reportedly preparing to fire their superintendent.

Gonzalez says he was informed by Board President Al Galvez and Trustee Ricardo Arredondo on Feb. 3, that the board has decided to release him.

When Gonzalez informed his staff on Feb. 6 of the board’s decision, he gave no explanation for the action except to say it was “without cause.”

However, the Tribune has obtained copies of Gonzalez’ evaluations, including the most recent one, which was dated Nov. 15, 2016.

According to Gonzalez’ attorney, Barry Bennett, this document was left on Gonzalez’ chair unsigned. Bennett says Gonzalez typed the trustees’ names at the bottom of the letter and presented it to the board in closed session for their signatures.

According to Bennett, Gonzalez has not seen the letter since.

At the outset, the evaluation commends Gonzalez for being a good orator and public speaker. It recognizes Gonzalez’ public relations skills and his positive interaction with the community. It also acknowledges that Gonzalez has good relationships with some teachers and staff.

The evaluation also notes that Gonzalez is enthusiastic about the future of Madera Unified School District but cautions that Madera may not be able to afford his vision.

The board commends the district staff for working tirelessly and diligently on the Dual Language Instruction program, Rose Elementary School (under construction), and other items. While not naming Gonzalez, the evaluation acknowledges the “hard work” of his staff.

Following these positive comments, the board expresses “grave concerns” over Gonzalez’ attitude, if not his performance as superintendent. At the core of the dissatisfaction is Gonzalez’ alleged refusal to submit to the authority of the board.

The evaluation cites the following concerns:

  1. ”Lacks acknowledgement of the board’s responsibilities to the district.” This has resulted in a “total lack of collaboration between the superintendent and the board, which is jeopardizing the entire district...”

  2. “Superintendent’s provocative and insubordinate outburst at a recent meeting further illustrates his disdain and disrespect for the board of trustees.”

  3. Uses “bullying tactics in an attempt to assert his perceived power over the board.”

  4. His “authoritative attitude and ego can’t comprehend that he is accountable to the board and reports to the board.”

  5. Superintendent thinks he’s our boss and can bully us into submission.

  6. “At times, in public sessions, the superintendent’s demeanor leaves little (much?) to be desired.”

  7. “His past attacks on trustees when simple questions are asked is tiring.”

  8. “His past public threats to call the media (to) ‘sharpen your pencils’ and his call out of trustees for having ‘no confidence’ is unprofessional, unwarranted, and uncalled for.”

  9. He “ignores board directives he disagrees with.”

  10. “If it is not his idea, it’s not a good idea.”

  11. He “will stymie (the board) by delaying board direction, suggestions, and recommendations or ignore all of the above.”

  12. He “doesn’t want input from the board and doesn’t share the board’s vision.”

  13. He “bypasses the board, going directly to the public with his plans for our district” instead of discussing “items and plans with the board (to ensure) all are on the same page, capturing the board’s vision before going to the public.”

The evaluation then moves from Gonzalez’ attitude to his performance. It cites the following:

  • He is not meeting expectations.

  • He has organizational, operational, and personnel management deficiencies with “no comprehensive plan for remediation.”

  • He has a “fundamental lack of management expertise and knowledge.”

  • “Some of his past hires, as well as some of those he inherited, are not performing.”

  • There is “no accountability for programs and projects.”

  • “Test scores were low, and superintendent blames everyone else.”

  • “Superintendent hires are protected even though they are incompetent.”

  • “The board needs to hear (a) detailed course of action other than new computers, broadband fixes, and successes in new implemented reading and math programs.”

  • The evaluation concludes with four other issues addressed by two or more trustees.

  • “The security of our teachers, students, and staff at our sites is something the district is not (made) a priority. The past agenda item for a dog is not the best way to keep our sites safe and secure.”

  • “Superintendent continues to push for expenditures/transfers of Fund 41 (building fund). If new schools will only replace portable classrooms, then the district is losing a huge investment, and community will pay exorbitantly for additional bonds.”

  • Monthly financial reports need to be in a format that the board can understand; multiple request have been made.”

  • Superintendent needs to provide the board with a list of department heads and location of offices.”

The Tribune also has obtained an earlier evaluation, dated Aug. 9, 2016. It takes the form of a narrative composed by Board President Al Galvez and attempts to blend the feedback from various, unnamed trustees. At the core of this document is much of the same criticism, that Gonzalez is not sufficiently deferential to the board.

Some members of the board also express a lack of confidence in the superintendent’s ability or willingness to supervise the district’s administrators properly, citing some incompetence and unprofessional behavior.

The August evaluation also includes a lengthy indictment of Gonzalez for a “fractured relationship” with Madera Unified Teachers Association.

The disharmony between Gonzalez and the school board could be settled at the next board meeting to be held tonight in the district boardroom at 1902 Howard Road. The meeting will begin with a closed session at 5 p.m. and a public meeting at 6:30 p.m.


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