Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I admired the imagery of the June 11 column on Manteca Unified School Trustee Sam Fant as a high roller. However upon reflection I think that the images played fast and loose with some the facts. From my perspective Trustee Fant is more of a good doer than a high roller. Most of us unfortunately know of the expression that goes with doing good deeds.
If Manteca Unified is the casino, then it is important to consider all of the games being played in this analogy. One game mentioned previously in the Bulletin is when the prior high rollers of the casino met behind closed doors to discuss keeping the possible new players out of the game. Adding the CTA lobbyist, the Secretary of State and the San Joaquin County DA to the local casino security force harassed the newly elected Hispanic player to cash in his stake to both defend himself and his new wife and baby as well as to lower his possible future losses.
Going outside of our local casino may have backfired in terms of the nonprofit side of the casino as funds go towards lawyers and recalls. Maybe the steps of Gamblers Anonymous should have been suggested to all the players first. After all a recovering politician has seated himself at the table. And a retired school activist has overextended himself. Since I am the latter let me share that I am praying to the God of my understanding for a restoration of a normal way of thinking and living.
In reference to the Hispanic principal, it appears that the wrong set of card rules is being applied to Trustee Fant. The public critique of the principal came from the perceived Queen of Clubs not the perceived King of Spades. Since Bridge is not a casino game Trustee Fant is not responsible for the cards that Trustee Drain plays. The latter turned over cards that indicated to her that the game was rigged.
She saw at Weston Ranch High the highest district suspension rates, disproportionate suspensions for defiance, opportunity gaps in graduation rates and educational outcomes along with repeated students’ stories of cultural insensitivity. In hindsight she has stated that anger got the best of her. Perhaps the playing table was overturned as she left the rigged game. But she did not rig the game.
Fant did roll the dice in closed session to reassign the card dealer at WRHS. This gamble did not pay off and Fant was in the minority concerning reassignment. Despite the support of the rest of the players the WRHS principal became a high roller by choosing to resign. This resignation was refused by the majority of the board with Fant again in the minority.
Then a new roll was negotiated through our Superintendent for a year paid leave. This time Fant bet with the majority and President Deborah Romero and Nancy Teicheira formed the minority. These results were all from another game behind closed doors so we may never know why mentoring students in how to improve their winnings was not a better option.
A $150,000 pay out is about $20,000 higher than what Transparent California lists for MUSD HS principals.
It would helpful if the gambling reviewer would provide us with a copy of the ‘deep pockets’ email. I have another public records request pending with MUSD to review the accuracy and context of the Grand Jury’s report.
Fant has the rest of the players at the board table to thank for his winnings for Weston Ranch: the first full day WRHS free summer swimming program, the continuation of an after school program for the third year in a row, the $2 million plus facility improvements to support the Civic Center responsibilities of MUSD at WRHS, the only MUSD female high school principal. These are not winnings for ‘select groups in the community’. They are well played hands that benefit a historically disenfranchised community.
It’s a great reason to be “Proud to be MUSD” as we take care of our own children even if they happen to live in Stockton. Weston Ranch’s social media is abuzz with satisfaction that “Sam went through a lot of trouble to make things right for the community.”