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Board member pushes for Superintendent Gandara's leave Allison K. Sampite | Tue, Jun 07 2011 12:00 PM

In May, Sweetwater Union High School District board member Bertha Lopez emailed board president John McCann asking him to consider putting Superintendent Jesus Gandara on administrative leave.

Nearly four weeks later she has yet to receive a response.

At issue is whether Gandara, who has come under intense scrutiny for his use of district credit cards to buy meals despite receiving a monthly stipend for such expenses, should receive disciplinary action.

“This is a superintendent who spends a lot of money on travel expenses when his job is to manage the district," Lopez said. "When he travels he is not limited to how much money he spends on his meals and it's not right. He was also using the credit card for gas."

Lopez wants Gandara's behavior discussed in closed session. As board president, McCann has the authority to set the agenda.

In an interview with The Star-News, McCann said the superintendent's evaluation is an important matter but does not take precedence over other district business.

"It will be conducted by all five board members and handled in a professional manner in accordance with legal requirements," McCann said.

The proposed agenda item has been set for June 20 but McCann said the board must pass the budget and work on labor negotiations.

"I want to bring this out to the open and discuss it with my colleagues," Lopez said. We owe this to our community. I feel very strongly that if any other employee would have done this, the person would have been on administrative leave without even thinking about it.".

She wrote in her May 10 email:

“This item will give the board the opportunity to discuss the recent activities of Dr. Gandara in regards to his credit card expenditures, travel expenses and the hiring of two public relations firms through the district's law firm GCR.”

McCann said Lopez has a history of irresponsible behavior and statements.

"We need to be professional about employee issues and limit the district's legal liabilities in handling employees," he said. "We're gonna do the right thing,” McCann said. “We take matters very seriously. People should not be misled by politics."

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DAVID WALDEN Says:

Tue, Jun 14 2011 12:57 PM

The evidence showing the Superintendent grossly mismanaged / abused his credit card privileges, hired PR firms without board approval, and the mishandling of the district's lunch program is overwhelming and beyond debate. If the Board of Trustees are determined NOT to hold the superintendent fully accountable, so be it. The burden of responsibility then shifts to the Public, to every single voter without fail, to ensure NOT ONE of the Board Members who has failed to hold the superintendent accountable are EVER elected to any other position of authority. John McCann and others are counting on the public's stupidity, ignorance and forgetfulness come election time. We've all seen it time and time again. So, ladies and gentlemen, You have a choice; take a stand and vote every incompetent board member out of office or sit back and relax; watch as our school district continues to spiral out of control with failing grades, low achievements, wasteful spending, a bond program (Prop O) that has little to no oversight, cost overruns, and much, much more. At the end of the day it's the voters' fault - because we as a community allowed it to happen - PERIOD.


Tiredofthisjack@$$ Says:

Tue, Jun 14 2011 11:52 AM

The only person being misled by politics is John McCann. With every new revelation about Gandara and Garcia, McCann creates a smoke screen to make it look as if he is being responsible and doing something about it. His so called cutting up the credit cards and the investigation into the PR firms is a joke. If McCann were really taking these matters seriously, Gandara and Garcia would have been fired long ago. John McCann is on the take with Gandara. He does not want to get rid of Gandara because he is depending on Gandara & Garcia to raise money for his run to get back on the City Council and eventually the Mayor's office. McCann is a joke!


Support Excellence Says:

Thu, Jun 09 2011 09:42 AM

It sounds to me like McCann is already planning that there won't be enough time to discuss the superintendent's evaluation in June. After everything I have been reading about the Sweetwater District it seems to me that it should be the highest priority of the Board. To minimize it sounds irresponsible and political.

So I have a suggestion for Mr. McCann and the rest of the board. If you are worried about time at the June meeting call a Special Board meeting ASAP with just one item on the agenda - the superintendent's evaluation.


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