The Star-News

School board member is distorting truth

Sat, Jun 18 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: John Mccann

In a June 15 press conference, my fellow board member Bertha Lopez made several inaccurate statements concerning the Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent's performance evaluation that need to be corrected.

First, as a newly elected boardmember, I am very concerned about the recent issues facing the Sweetwater district. When the superintendent's credit card use was brought to my attention, I immediately contacted the superintendent and had the credit card canceled. In an e-mail sent to me on May 9, Lopez criticized me for canceling the district credit cards so quickly and argued to restore many of the district's credit cards. Lopez knowingly and freely took advantage of the superintendent's credit card while Lopez and Dr. Gandara were allies and only stopped benefiting from it when Dr. Gandara and she had a falling out.

When it was found there were questions over billing from a PR firm, I called for the independent audit of the firm's bills. In a 4-1 vote, Lopez voted against the independent audit on May 17.

Lopez is intentionally making false statements stating that she wants to have an agenda item on the superintendent's performance and that nothing has been put on the agenda. The fact is that an agenda item to review the superintendent's performance has been docketed since May for the June 20 board meeting. All issues in regards to the district and superintendent's performance will be discussed during this item in closed session.

Lopez has been notified multiple times that the superintendent's performance will be on the agenda. E-mails and communications were made to Lopez on May 17, 19, 20 and 25.

The superintendent's evaluation is a very important matter. It will be conducted by all five board members and handled in a professional manner in accordance with legal requirements.

The superintendent has a very lucrative contract that was approved and extended by Lopez that gives him due process on any evaluation matters.

Lopez's history of irresponsible behavior and statements concerning employees is one reason why a district employee (Mrs. Lemons) sued her. This lawsuit cost the district thousands of dollars in unnecessary legal fees, time and resources.

We need to be professional about employee issues and limit the district's legal liability in handling employee issues. Handling things professionally is in the best interest of the district and our children we serve.

McCann is president of the Sweetwater Union High School District.

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