Escondido Union School District un-civil war continues unwell into the New Year

EUSD trustee Jose Fragozoo at Vista Superior Court hearing.

When the going gets tough at the Escondido Union School District (EUSD), the restraining orders get going.

That’s not going to change as 2015 rolls into 2016 since EUSD trustee Jose Fragozo has to phone it in at the next school board meeting set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14 at district headquarters, 2310 Aldergrove Ave., just off Auto Parkway.

Following two days of testimony in the quest by the district’s top administrator Luis Rankins-Ibarra, and other school officials, Dec. 21-22 seeking to bar Fragozo permanently from meetings, and school district offices, the matter continues to stew.

Superior Court Judge Richard Whitney deferred a decision on making permanent a temporary restraining order against Fragozo until mid-January, probably following the next board meeting.

For the record, in this corner, Rankins-Iberra, and three other district administrators, alleged Fragozo threatened them and created a hostile work environment. They filed for the temporary restraining order on Dec. 2. Aside from not being allowed on school district grounds or board meetings, Fragozo was ordered not come closer than 100 yards to Rankins-Ibarra.

Fragozo countered that it’s a personal vendetta against him because he has been critical of Rankins-Iberra’s policies. During the temporary restraining order hearing, at which time the order went into effect, Fragozo’s attorney Kristin Andelman said “This is very clearly a political vendetta where my client’s rights to publicly participate in the required duties of being a member of the school committee are being threatened.”

Threats alleged by the superintendent were a “fantasy,”  Andelman said, adding “This is humiliating to my client to be cast as a thug,mJose Fragozo is a peaceful person; he has never hit or threatened anyone.”

With the temporary workplace violence restraining order in place against Fragozo, the last two board meetings in December were circuses without the bread. First, Fragozo tried to phone into the meeting from his rented Escondido apartment. Objections that this violated the Brown Act, California’s open meetings law stopped the meeting in its tracks. It was adjourned for a week until Fragozo could make other arrangements.

Fragozo phoned in to that one from a San Marcos shopping center office. That 370 Mulberry Drive office is shared by the Palomar College faculty union and North County Immigration Task Force. He used his personal cell phone.

For more details of the two EUSD meetings during which Fragozo phoned it in, please refer to Margaret McCown Liles excellent coverage from her Blue View for Escondido blog reprinted by permission below and

EUSD superintendent Luis Rankins-Ibarra.

EUSD superintendent Luis Rankins-Ibarra.

 Meanwhile back at center court

Two days of Vista court hearings on Dec. 21-22 included charges by Rankins-Ibarra and EUSD trustees Paulette Donnellon and Zesty Harper that Fragozo harassed district administrators through text messages, e-mails, name calling  and other behavior.

Rankins-Ibarra said he feared for his life, something he never feared even when he dealt with drug-dealing gangs and violence growing up in East L.A..

Fragozo called the charges absolutely false.

Donnellon testified that Fragozo’s bad behavior took off following a consultants report that the district’s English Learner program was not working. Donnellon said Fragozo demanded changes.

The superintendent said that when a board packet sent by him to Fragozo certified mail didn’t arrive on time, Fragozo said he was coming to district headquarters to pick up the packet “or else. Rankins-Ibarra said when he asked if that was a threat, Fragozo pointed at him  and said he was “coming after him.”

“That was the first time that I thought he was going to end my life,” the superintendent testified.

Where will it all end? Who knows. The EUSD soap opera looks good to go for quite a while

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