Recall Escondido Union School District Board president Joan Gardner?
That’s the battle cry of a newly formed association of retired educators and Escondido progressives committed to education for English Learners calling itself “The Saturday Group.”
The group launched its recall effort at the June 23 EUSD Board meeting in response to Vista Superior Court Judge Richard Whitney’s refusal to agree to a request for a restraining order against EUSD Board member Jose Fragozo filed by EUSD superintendent Luis Rankin-Ibarra and other administrators and school board members.
“The first campaign phase involves confronting the Board with its failure to retract public criticisms of a Board member even after the district’s humiliating loss in a court case on March 25, 2016,” group spokesman Don Greene said, referring to the abortive restraining order try. Greene is president of the Escondido Taxpayers association.
“The second phase consists of launching a recall campaign against EUSD Board President Joan Gardner for frivolously supporting immense legal costs rather than spending public funds in the classroom and for similar actions that threaten public education in Escondido,” Greene said.
Volunteers supporting the effort to recall Gardner circulated a letter this week spelling out how they contend the EUSD Board members misled district residents about claims that Jose Fragozo, the only elected Latino on the EUSD Board, allegedly threatened educational administrators, Greene said.
The failure of the EUSD Board majority to correct this misrepresentation after losing in court was one of the reasons contributing to the recall campaign,according to Greene.
“The turmoil in Escondido public education has not only diminished educational prospects for our youth, but also “undermines economic and commercial development throughout North County,” Greene said.
The letter addressed to “”Escondido Neighbors” sent by the group has four bold-typed “urgent”s and titled “A Letter on Behalf of Jose Fragozo.” It’s signed by Alianza North County, Escondido Taxpayers Association, Professor Mary ann Drinan, Carmen Miranda, Rebecca Nutile, Professor John Valdez, Professor Patrick Drinan and Nina Deerfield.
The letter reads as follows:
A state judge recently cleared Jose Fragozo, trustee of the Escondido elementary schools, of all charges that the superintendent and his vice-presidents brought against him. The judge essentially ruled that there was NO convincing evidence that Trustee Fragozo engaged in intimidation or in any way bullied administration or staff.
The superintendent and a member of the school board sent a frightening letter about Trustee Fragozo to all district parents, an unprecedented action since typically students bring letters home to their parents. Now the superintendent has lost the case against Trustee Fragozo, and there is only silence. There are no apologies for maligning his character or misrepresenting him in such a false and demeaning way. There is no letter from the school administration telling you the truth of what happened.
We ask: Why did the school administration take this hostile action against Trustee Fragozo? Only they can answer this question. However, we do know that Trustee Fragozo is a strong advocate for an excellent education for our kids. We know he wants immediate change in the program for English Learners so that they can become successful. He wants more parents to become involved and given timely notice about important meetings. Latinos comprise 74% of the school population, and 40% are English Learners.
School board minutes tell us that Trustee Fragozo voted against large pay increases for administrators even though so many problems exist. Textbooks are often inadequate; our students do poorly on state tests; gangs operate on some campuses; and mold grows in many buildings. Trustee Fragozo does not want taxpayer funds being spent on lawyers or special privileges for administration. He wants to solve these problems.
Does the administration want to hear his ideas? The answer appears to be “no” even though Trustee Fragozo is the only elected Latino on a five-member board, and our district is primarily composed of Latino students. We also ask: Why are board meetings so disorganized and important problems never discussed? Why does the board president apparently fail to provide order and opportunities to talk about real issues?
Trustee Fragozo is a victim of an out-of-touch (and what many perceive to be racist) school board and a group of overpaid administrators. SHAME ON THEM, NOT THEIR VICTIM.