Ken Johnson — the president of the Manteca Educators Association — has been placed on paid administrative leave by the school district in the aftermath of an e-mail sent from a Manteca Unified account to 1,100 teachers.
That email was subsequently re-circulated by teachers to community members including those targeted in the email.
The email that has been described as “bullying” and “harassment” by more than a dozen community members who submitted formal complaints and letters to the school district about it — as well as public correspondence at Tuesday’s school board meeting — came on the heels of another Johnson email imploring MEA members to push back on efforts by parents pushing for San Joaquin County Public Health Director Dr. Maggie Parks to allow Manteca Unified schools to reopen.
Given the district has a set policy regarding bullying and harassment the incident was elevated beyond simply being a case of inappropriate or misuse of district equipment.
District officials would not confirm Johnson was the person placed on paid administrative pending an investigation other than to verify an individual was placed on administrative leave. Johnson’s name came up during public comments that referenced the email that was recirculated by some teachers to others in the community.
That email reads as follows:
“If you emailed Dr. Park yesterday, send that email to Dr. Park at Mpark@sjcphs.org That’s her direct email. The link yesterday goes to some sort of automated reply.
“A friend sent the attachment to me. ----- is a former student. Actually, her mom and I dated before I found the love of my life, --------. Her mom is now married to ---- ------, former district administrator. Actually, ---- jokes that I gave him permission to date his future wife which is kinda funny. Not really true, but you could interpret it that way. ------- is a hair stylist in Manteca. For some reason, my wife doesn’t go to her hair salon anymore. The part that gets me is that --------- always posts how the pandemic is hurting her business. Hey, I get that. But what I don’t get is that we reopen schools just to help your business. We reopen schools when it is SAFE to do so for students and for our employees. PERIOD. We all want to get back to normal. But we should never put anyone at risk. If you have never publicly advocated for yourself or for your students, now is a damn good time to do it. MPark@sjcphs.org And many thanks ------- for providing the email address.
Johnson has been consistent in opposing the re-opening of schools due to concerns that regardless of the steps the district takes that it will lead to a teacher or a student getting sick from COVID-19.
That said the MEA last week agreed to — and the board accepted — conditions that need to be in place to allow the eventual return of students to classroom settings in addition to those at-risk students that started participating in small learning groups on campus Monday.
Johnson has made extensive use of mass emails to encourage teachers to help pressure the district including an email six weeks ago suggesting teachers email the parents of their students what the district is making them go through by requiring them to teach distance learning from classrooms instead of from their homes.
While Johnson told MEA members “your story is powerful enough as it is”, he offered some points teachers could bring up in communicating with parents at a time when the wildfires started exploding across the north state including 30 miles southwest of Manteca:
* “It isn’t safe to reopen schools right now. We have had several cases of COVID at school and over 40 staff quarantined. We also have plenty of staff not wearing masks on campus. If it is unsafe for kids to be at schools, but it’s okay for teachers?
*“Sharing 3 bathrooms with 80 or more staff?
*“A recent survey of our teachers showed that 82% of you want the choice to work from home or school.
*“The district wouldn’t have to pay for the air conditioning for 1,200 classrooms — doubling the electrical demand on an already strained electric grid.
*”The face masks purchased are unsafe, there are no wipes, and no hand sanitizer in classrooms.
*“The internet connectivity issues.”
The district has repeatedly stressed they have a wide array of COVID-19 protocols in place and are meeting county and state health mandates. They also have noted the face masks being used have been determined to be safe by county and state health officials.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com