Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I am confused as to what 5-2 vote against Weston Ranch High Principal Jose Fregoso, Ms. Reichhelm is referring. According to the Bulletin article of Mach 4, 2015 there was an original 3-2-2 vote against reassigning Fregoso, a later 5-2 declining his resignation and then a final 5-2 vote in favor of a new contract for a paid year of leave. This new contract was negotiated by the superintendent, approved by the Board majority and signed by Fregoso. Since these votes all occurred during closed session I am assuming that they represent the will of the majority. Trustee Sam Fant was in the minority of all of these votes so I would appreciate clarification of “… to vote his way or else” from Ms. Reichhelm’s letter.
Having publicly observed and interacted with all of the trustees I do not experience them as the type to accept any bullying as alleged by Ms. Reichelm. They certainly have their differences with each other and with many of my positions. They express themselves assertively at times but never aggressively.
In my opinion Board President Deborah Romero tried to address the Grand Jury’s perception of bullying by Trustee Fant by assuring everyone Tuesday night that the process of selecting the new principal for Weston Ranch resulted in a valid 5-1 vote. From her perspective the process represented high standards. Her comments supported those made by Superintendent Jason Messer last month. Though I would have preferred greater weight given to the input from Weston Ranch’s staff and community, I think that the process was democratic with no bullying. Personally I agree with Romero and Messer in this area and think we need to move on to full support for the new principal.
Trustee Ashley Drain certainly adds diversity to our board. Under the US constitution she would be serving – like our local US representative – without any residency controversy since she currently lives near the high school from which she graduated. Her little sister and recently deceased brother are also graduates of WRHS. The legal complexity of domicile/residence regulations – especially when individuals are experiencing life changes – will be determined by the judicial system. Thanks to the extensive coverage by the Bulletin, Drain was elected with her residency issue very much in public awareness. In my opinion she has earned the respect due an elected public official especially given our right to be viewed as innocent until proven guilty,
Many community members and students have shared their stories of support from Trustees Fant and Drain. Though I do not agree with some of their votes, I will continue to defend their rights to diverse opinions and their benefits to our children.
Finally, in my diversity training, the perspectives of protected groups are given priority. We are still far from a post racial community. Both locally and nationally the conversations about race are heating up. Tuesday’s meeting showed me that the work begun in MUSD over racism at Weston Ranch remains unfinished. For six months I have been urging the board to follow its own policy:
• Board Policy 1221.1: At the direction of the Manteca Unified School Board, the Superintendent is to establish and maintain a District Cultural Proficiency Advisory Committee with the purpose of providing solutions to concerns dealing with diversity issues to include, but not limited to, recruitment of minority staff, teachers, and administrators, hiring, assigning and promoting issues, the review of disciplinary issues, and cultural-awareness training and other concerns that will foster inclusion, acceptance, and equality for all shareholders in the Manteca Unified School District..”
• AR 1221.1 states: “... The issues of diversity have to do with access, opportunity, incorporation, and celebration. These terms have been defined in the following manner: access – the right to enter and use, opportunity – a chance for advancement, incorporation – to unite or combine into a unified whole, and celebration – to observe with respect or praise.
In order to promote access, opportunity, incorporation, and celebration, the DCPAC shall annually review all district diversity training for staff cultural diversity opportunities for parents, students, and community which address the issues related to diversity, and advise the Superintendent on necessary diversity training.”
This Bylaw reflects the wisdom from the last time MUSD focused on our nation’s ‘original sin’ (racism). I think we need to revisit this wisdom. Healing is what our students need.
“Without love, there is no reason to know anyone, for love will in the end connect us to our neighbors, our children and our hearts.” Martin Luther King Jr.