The Star-News

Superintendent's future uncertain

Sat, Sep 15 2012 12:00 PM Posted By: Allison K. Sampité

Citizens came by the dozens, donned with football whistles, Chargers jerseys, penalty flags and signs to attend a special closed session board meeting at the Sweetwater Union High School District.

They showed up Monday night to protest the rumored negotiation of a two-year contract between superintendent Dr. Ed Brand and the district.

While district spokeswoman Grace Sevilla assured those who asked that was not the case, Brand was under a different impression.

“As far as I know, the meeting on the 10th was to decide whether or not they (the board) wanted to enter into formal negotiation about me staying on,” Brand said.

In the end, no reportable action was taken following the two-hour meeting, at which Brand was not present.

“The attorney who represents the district said that I didn’t need to be there,” Brand said Wednesday. “When he said that I chose not to go.”

Citizens were especially upset that a special meeting was called during the season-opener of the Chargers versus Raiders game and believe it was done to prevent most people from attending.

Despite Brand’s absence he received a tongue-lashing from the community during public comment.

Citizens Bond Oversight Committee member Kevin O’Neill said having a last minute meeting invites skepticism and mistrust from the public against the district.

“The district has taken secrecy to an art form and the media is Dr. Brand’s personal kryptonite,” O’Neill said. “Where is the sense of expediency? Any way you cut this it was ill-advised.”

The committee voted no confidence in Brand at their meeting last week.

Brand signed a contract with the district in June 2011 to replace then superintendent Jesus Gandara and serve as acting- and then interim-superintendent for up to one year or until a permanent replacement was found.

Beginning July 1, the laws pertaining to the California State Teachers Retirement System changed, limiting the amount of money a retiree could earn.

“I told the board at the July meeting that I had to resign effective Aug. 31, which I did,” Brand said. “I was under the belief that the board would make a decision regarding myself at the Aug. 20 board agenda and then was told Aug. 20 by the board president that they’d have a special meeting Sept. 6...”

But that meeting never happened.

Parent Stewart Payne brought up the fact that during a previous board meeting Brand stated to the public that he was willing to work the month of September for free.

Brand said Wednesday that his statement was based on a contingency.

“It was contingent on the board allowing me to be an administrator of the district,” he said. “In other words, if someone tried to sue me in the month of September, I wouldn’t be protected. I didn’t have liability insurance.”

Board bylaws state that the superintendent’s contract shall be extended only by board action and subsequent to a satisfactory evaluation of performance. He has yet to receive one.

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