Supporters of Weston Ranch High School principal Jose Fregoso nearly filled the room during the Manteca Unified Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night. There were some detractors too, but they were outnumbered by the former.
Even Rex Holiday, former board member and a resident of Weston Ranch, pledges his support for the principal in the form of a letter that was read at the podium by retired district employee and San Joaquin County Board of Education member Janet Dyk.
The strong showing of support comes on the heels of a move by board members Ashley Drain and Sam Fant to remove Fregoso as principal.
The first Fregoso supporter to go before the microphone was Ralph Dominguez. He took the time to be there even though his children have long since left the school campus and are now successful adults.
“I came to support Mr. Fregoso,” said the former Weston Ranch Athletics Booster president.
Actually, he said, he “enjoyed every single one” of the school’s principals “because of what they did to our children,” said Dominguez whose two sons are now police officers.
“I’m proud of Weston Ranch. I’m proud of the principal, Mr. Fregoso. He is a fair man, a strong man, and a firm man,” said Dominguez who added that he had watched the principal interact with all of the children in school.
He also shared one vignette that occurred in Sonora where Weston Ranch played an away game, and one of the students got hurt.
“He stayed with the kid” in the hospital in Sonora, said Dominguez. “That’s the kind of guy he is,” he said of the school principal.
Fregoso had been under attack since an incident involving a student that was put into light by Drain. The student was in danger of being suspended for five days resulting from a reported altercation with a school staff. Drain stepped up to help the student by accompanying her to the school principal and vice principal’s office. During that incident, Drain complained about the school administrators’ apathy toward students.
A closed session vote by the board in January, which was announced in public session, revealed that a motion made about the removal of Fregoso stemming from that incident resulted in a split vote in favor of the retention of the principal.
It was that vote which prompted the attendance of Fregoso supporters and critics at the Tuesday night board meeting.
A lot of parents at Weston Ranch High School support Fregoso, former two-time Manteca Unified trustee Dale Fritchen said in his public comment.
“Jose Fregoso does an excellent job there. I support Jose completely,” said Fritchen whose daughter who was a straight “A” student at Weston Ranch is now attending Brigham Young University.
“She had a good education at Weston Ranch High School,” said Fritchen, adding that under Fregoso, the school’s state test scores have gone up from 702 to 714.
“They are improving; they’re getting better. A lot of parents support him as principal. I hope he sticks it out,” in spite of all that’s going on, Fritchen said.
If Fregoso were removed from his administrative post, “the results would be disastrous,” said Dyk, who followed her statements by reading the letter from former trustee, Holiday, who represented the Weston Ranch area.
“Jose Fregoso is a strong and effective leader,” as shown by the increase in the numbers of graduating seniors and the decrease in drop-outs, he stated.
A graduated the University of California, Santa Barbara, Fregoso took over the post of principal at Weston Ranch in 2009, the third to hold the post since the opening of the former county unincorporated community which is now part of the City of Stockton. Previously, he was assistant principal at Lindhurst High in Marysville Joint Union High School District. He succeeded Clara Schmiedt as principal when she was promoted to senior director of secondary education in Manteca Unified.
Fregoso holds a master’s degree in both Pupil Personnel Services and School Counseling from the University of La Verne. He and his wife, Amy, are the parents of four children.