Sam Fant has thrown down the gauntlet.
“Produce that email and I’ll never run for political office again.”
While the Manteca Unified School Board voted 5-2 on Tuesday to accept the findings of the San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury, that didn’t prevent the embattled Fant from setting the record straight on at least one portion of the scathing report that painted both him and Trustee Ashley Drain – both of whom voted against accepting the findings – in an extremely unflattering light.
Fant, who was asked by Drain not to specifically address aspect of the report so not to give the “garbage” document any credence, piped up in an exchange with Superintendent Jason Messer about whether an email that was attributed to him that claimed that the district could be sued because they have deep pockets was ever actually found.
During a Freedom of Information Act request, Fant said – he was backed up by Messer – that nowhere on the district’s servers was that email ever actually found as it was listed in the overall report.
Because Grant Jury findings and investigations are confidential, the source of the email that was quoted was not disclosed.
“If anybody can produce that email, I will not run for any political office ever again,” Fant said boldly. “I’ll be done.”
The board also approved the majority of the recommendations made by the Grand Jury, and will implement some of them as early as Sept. 30 – mostly streamlined policies and procedures designed to inform the Superintendent of any wrongdoing of any board member and disseminate that information amongst the board members themselves.
A policy suggestion to provide annual training for board members was already enacted.
“I’ve learned that you need to be careful who you piss off. To be careful about whose toes you’re stepping on and to be careful about not knowing,” Drain said when commenting on the report. “I don’t want to call it garbage but this garbage report showed a perspective that I’ve never seen – a perspective that was different from the one that I operated on.”
And some in the audience questioned the legitimacy of portions of the document and the fairness in which the report was actually prepared.
According to activist teacher Leo Bennett-Cauchon, Grand Jury investigations are prompted by complaints, and all of the information that’s obtained is done so confidentially. The issue with that, he said, is that those who are targeted never get a list of the witnesses who provide the information contained within and therefore never get a solid chance to face those who are making accusations.
And the rebuttal did include some rank-breaking.
Drain, who was portrayed as somebody defiant of administrators and boisterous about happenings on social media sites, urged Fant to not go through with a section-by-section breakdown of the report because it wouldn’t do any good.
“Sam, I understand what you’re trying to do and protect your reputation, but how you act is truly reflective of your character – what you actually do is what is important,” Drain said – making a reference to how she knows of the work that he does for the community because people are able to use the pool at Weston Ranch, something that shows actual results.
The actual response to the Grand Jury, and the deviations from what was suggested, will be brought back for formal recommendation when the board meets next month, and implementation of new programs and procedures will take place later this year.
It was documented in the Grand Jury report that Fant had brought the pictures to Bulletin Editor Dennis Wyatt in advance of the meeting. Wyatt declined to publish them.