The Manteca Unified School District board wanted to do as much as possible to make Tuesday’s meeting about the appointment of a trustee to fill the vacant term left by Alexander Bronson’s resignation.
But in that process, the board voted to table two items – the possible censure of trustee Sam Fant and the formal response to the San Joaquin County Grand Jury’s report about the behavior of certain board members and their impact on the health of the district – until they meet next time.
And things could change in the weeks leading up to that meeting.
Board President Deborah Romero, who is one of three trustees serving on a committee that drafted the formal language in Fant’s tabled censure resolution, said that in the wake of recent testimony and input from the American Civil Liberties Union and the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, she’d like for the committee to meet again before moving forward.
The attempt to recall Fant, however, is continuing.
While it wasn’t announced when he stepped to the lectern the same way that John McKillip did when he notified Fant that a recall effort was being launched, former MUSD Trustee Ed Fichtner on Tuesday silently handed Fant an envelope before he delivered his emotional comments that focused on race in the district.
What was inside that envelope, The Bulletin has learned, were papers that updated the original copies that were delivered previously to ensure that everything was in formal compliance. Fant accepted the envelope without acknowledging their contents.
Tuesday marked the first time that the board has agendized formal discussion about the report of the San Joaquin County Grand Jury, which alleges that the conduct of Fant and embattled trustee Ashley Drain – who is facing felony charges of election fraud for allegedly using an address to run for the position in which she was elected – have created a hostile environment within the district’s administration.
Examples in the report paint Fant, who is praised by some in the Weston Ranch area as somebody who tends to the needs of an often underrepresented populace, as somebody who used his position to push through personal vanity programs regardless of the impact or liability for the district as a whole.
But the censure motion against him centers on actions prior to and leading up to a board meeting where photos taken from the personal Facebook page of a district employee were raised during the public comment portion of the meeting and painted as racist – images, according to the woman in question, of the confederate flag that were taken at a “Dukes of Hazzard” birthday party for children.
Stockton activist Ralph White, who presented the images to the board and to a television news crew that was attending the meeting, called for her immediate firing despite the fact that Fant had brought the images to The Bulletin for consideration prior to the meeting. An assessment by a Sacramento legal firm hired to investigate the matter concluded that Fant was non-compliant in delivering his side of the story for the district’s official investigation, and he had terse words for the lawyer who executed the document when she presented the evidence within to the board.