Dear Editor,

How do I explain? I'm leaving, after ten great years with the Hesperia Unified School District. I leave having great relationships with students, parents, friends and colleagues during my time here as a teacher and administrator. Even with most of my extended family and close friends close by, I'm still leaving.

Please excuse the drama of this public commentary of what should be a personal concern. There has been some speculation concerning my actions and even attempts by a few to use my departure for personal and/or political objectives. I'd like to set the record straight.

The current governance of this district does play a part in my departure because it is out of balance and there seems to be little inclination on the part of our citizens to be aware or involved with what is happening right now in our local schools. Hesperia is one of several union run, dare I say, bought and paid for school districts in the state of California. Every member of the board was a teacher or is married to a teacher and while the interests of teachers should be represented on a school board, no school board should represent the exclusive interests of any group. No matter how hard they try, I don't believe the current board members can represent the community's interests in our schools. And I believe they are trying, but I also believe they are putting this school district in jeopardy economically, academically, and in leadership, in terms of who is attracted to the district or who stays as administrators.

Why should there be concern? The recently elected school board members seem to be acting on a predetermined and probably dictated agenda or hit list. Though this is constantly denied, amazingly, one-by-one, action is taken on the rumored items of their agenda, which don't at all seem to be election issues on which they ran. Proposing a new calendar, eliminating all previously consulted legal firms with numerous areas of expertise in favor of a single law firm with limited experience in education, the end of the Public Information Officer position, trying to intervene in and create their own role in the hiring process of district management, proposing the creation of "Choice Schools" at elementary while eliminating the sixth grade academies, forcing the creation of a new "site based management" that essentially straps down any administration decision making or activity with additional powers being granted to a site's teachers over their principals, and intervening in the bidding and contractual award process are just some of the obvious actions taken by the board in forwarding their goals.

The recently elected board members have demonstrated repeatedly that they are willing to ignore any and all input from those hired to perform the many tasks involved in running a school district. In my opinion, this happened when a new calendar was proposed at the very first board meeting after the election, before any committees or even basic protocols like having the issue on a board agenda were met. Then there was the elimination of the position of the Public Information Officer, which may seem trivial to some, but this position was eliminated after extreme public ridicule by board members and the questioning of the very integrity of district personnel for creating the position and for the salary associated with it. I find it interesting that no media was in attendance at a most recent and critical board meeting awarding the high school construction contract to a firm not recommended by any district staff and creating the redundant position of a Construction Manager. The creation of the Construction Manager's position flies in the face of some of the earlier logic used to remove the Public Information officer because paying this person for the demanded position and granted by this board is excessive. They are paying this person more than any principal makes in a given year. If the district needs more help supervising our construction projects, they could just hire three people for what they want to pay this one individual. Why don't they hire the three and watch all of our construction projects, not just the high school?

Fear and suspicion seem to be the current governing tactics used by the school board. There seems to be more time being spent behind closed doors in the school district than ever before. People at the district office and the school sites have been forced to spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about offending board members, trying to fulfill arbitrary and time consuming demands only to have their work tossed aside by the board, and trying to find time to do the job for kids they were hired to do. We have a new leadership model I cannot endorse because it tears down trust between management, school staffs and the school board. The newly introduced system of "site based management" will force school site personnel to spend more time away from students, create ultimately meaningless yet potentially punitive paperwork, and confuse everyone about their roles and where to direct their attention. Site administrators and superintendents are among the most accountable people in the education system. We are the only individuals who, under current federal law, will lose our jobs for an underperforming school or district. That is one reason we push our staffs, but I have yet to meet a principal or superintendent who is ultimately motivated by anything but the success of all kids.

There is war upon all administrators in Hesperia today. As of the writing of this letter, 13 administrators have chosen to leave our district this year. That is an alarming number, perhaps more have left than in the last five years combined. Their work has been halted through constant questioning, manipulation, and dismissal by the current board and an overly empowered teacher's union. Many teachers considered themselves oppressed over the past decade. In reality, we all lose during these struggles because ultimately, the children lose. I don't know how Hesperia will answer their current challenges, but I do know no answers will be found in the faultfinding and power trips.

The bottom line for me; in light of the current circumstances of our school district, seeing no means of affecting any positive contribution, and seeing a bleak future for what has been a most excellent school district, recognized for its achievements at the state and federal level, I have chosen to vote with my feet. I am leaving out of a sense of duty to my family and a personal integrity that will not allow me to be a part of something I do not condone. Things can change for Hesperia, but only as individuals from all walks of life will get involved. I leave with hope and best wishes for this community. I care deeply for many here. I hope needed attention will be given by all here to your schools and that you will not simply suppose that your interests are being represented.