When former Kingston Elementary School principal David Long told three members of the school board that they should resign if there was an attempted recall, he had no idea that, 60 seconds later, a recall attempt would be announced.


"No, I did not," he said Tuesday afternoon. "I knew that they were putting the recall papers together. Different people had [told that rumor] that to me. And I was told, you know, coming up. But I didn't know it was [going to be] staged that way."


Long was addressing the school board he believes are responsible for more than a dozen principals and other administrators leaving the district this year.


"I believe, absolutely, every one of them, [the board] was a factor in them leaving," he said. "Every one of them went to an equivalent or a promotion-type job. There were some seriously quality type people who were lost to the district last year."


In Long's case, he's going to be the principal of an elementary school in Logan, Utah.


"Speaking for myself, yes, I had thought for years about moving to this part of the country, but I don't know if I would have looked if conditions had been different."


He also submitted letters to the editor published in the Daily Press and Hesperia Star on the issue.


"The anxiety caused by this board made it very difficult to get the business of the district done," Long said. "People were down at the district office trying to do everything they could to please the new board ... and frankly, it made them very unavailable to people at the school sites.


"It could be something as simple as a purchase order," he said. "Sometimes a purchase order passes through two or three departments, and if people are off working on something that a board member has a personal interest in, it just slows things down."


Long said he expects the departures to continue.


"The dominos haven't stopped. That kind of turmoil continues. We're not talking about a few months of trying to get back on track as a district, now we're talking about a year or maybe more," he said. "You've had two things happen this past year that are major for any organization: You've had the staff and leadership at the main office completely change. And you've also had your governing leadership completely change."


The former principal, who resigned at the end of the 2006-2007 school year, said he has no issue with the new board majority making changes, simply how they're going about it.


"I believe you've always got things to work on ... but the spirit in which you approach that is critical, and it's been an attacking kind of spirit from the first moment this board took over. So instead of new people getting new direction and settling into that, the attacks have not ceased," Long said. "This is the first time the Hesperia district has experienced three seats changing all at the same time. The result of that is the instant ability to do, essentially, whatever they wanted, and they have done, rather than there being an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other and all the board members to find out what's going on. They've gone in with their initial assumptions and stayed there."


And contrary to board member contentions at Monday's school board meeting that their missteps have been due to a lack of support from district staff, Long says administrators and principals have done their best to work with the new board.


"I have seen little-to-no resistance from district staff. I have seen great efforts to build a relationship, to do whatever they've been asked to do. But the requests have just been unending and very difficult to meet."


As for the recall he predicted moments before it came about, Long doesn't know if it will succeed.


"If the recall focuses on what's happening to kids in our schools and what's happening with the tax dollars in our community, I think it's got a great chance at success. If it just focuses on 'we didn't like the way you did that' issues, I don't see it going anywhere."


And he sticks by his suggestion that the board members resign instead of waiting to be voted out in a special election.


"I don't want to see the community drug through that. Until the power struggle stops, the kids and the community are going to lose."


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.