In 24 hours, Helen Rogers' replacement will be chosen. But in one of her last acts as a member of the Hesperia Unified School District school board, and on Election Day eve, she attacked fellow board members Monday night in a lengthy prepared statement.


"The last two years of my school board experience have been the worst of times," she said.


After five years on the board (board terms were extended to synchronize them with city council and park board elections), Rogers opted not to run for a second term in office this year. In 2006, board members Hardy Black, Robert Kirk and Lee Rogers (no relation) were elected to the board, and her frustrations and accusations were aimed at the three-person controlling bloc.


"The new board members have used harassment, intimidation and belittling as the tools to accomplish their goals. They have been experts in devaluing our support staff and cabinet," she said. "I have seen employees in closed session who were belittled and brought to the point of tears. I have watched as cabinet members were intimidated and humiliated. I can truthfully tell you, that if those in the audience could have somehow seen what went on it closed session, by the three new board members and their lawyer, you would have been appalled. I have actually walked out of closed session, after telling [HUSD attorney] Tristan Pelayes, that I did not have to sit and listen to his garbage any longer."


Pelayes' firm, Wagner & Pelayes, was hired as the district's primary legal firm soon after the 2006 election, as part of a process of winnowing down the then-seven legal firms employed by the HUSD, covering different specialties.


Rogers accused her fellow board members of improprieties in district hiring and promotion practices.


"On several occasions employees were told they would get a position before the selection process began. Of course, they knew with a three-board majority, they could put anyone into any position. Yes, power is very important to them."


In addition to Black, Kirk and Lee Rogers, Helen Rogers' statement also took aim at Pelayes' role and cost to the district.


"They took over George Landon's position as chief negotiator. Robert Kirk and Tristan Pelayes met and negotiated with landowners. I wonder what they hoped to receive in return for offering more than the original appraisal. Perhaps future political favors?


"They broke the Brown Act on many occasions. I will mention one in particular: They all three, met at a Cypress staff meeting. However, their explanation was that they had brought refreshments, so it was all right. Wow! Unbelievable!


"Robert Kirk attended a conference concerning the Brown Act. He took his lawyer, Tristan Pelayes, with him. The district paid his way. This had never been approved by the governing board. Only, after Bruce Minton called Pelayes on this, did he deduct the cost from his monthly bill. It is interesting to note, that Mr. Pelayes discussed in open session, how he had to correct the presenters because their information was faulty. Experts on the Brown Act evidently do not have the expertise the Pelayes has.


"We have continued to pay Tristan Pelayes' firm between $400 and $1,200 to attend each board meeting. It is interesting to note, that board members are paid less a month, than Pelayes receives for attending one board meeting. Just to attend board meetings during the year 2007/2008, the fee from Pelayes was $20,221.83. I think this is totally irresponsible since we are in a budget crisis. During the 2007/2008 school year we paid the firm of Pelayes $276,952.29. Some will argue that other firms charge huge amounts also, but, included in their fees, are architectural designs and other services. Yet we continue to pay this tremendous amount of money to his firm. Does anyone besides me find this totally outrageous?"


She ended up exhorting those in attendance to vote in Tuesday's election: "I dread to think what the next two years will bring. Please get out and vote tomorrow. We must stop the destruction of our school district and its employees."


Black and Kirk briefly responded to Rogers' statement during the meeting.


"Helen's refused to sit down with Tristan one-on-one and have any discussions with him," Black said. "We've saved in lawyer fees over the past two years ... contrary to what Helen would have you believe."


"Three years ago, our lawyers' fees were $540,000 a year," Kirk said. "This year, they're down to $300,000. ... At the same time, we've gotten more services out of Wagner & Pelayes. You can ask staff; you don't have to believe me."


The full text of Rogers' statement can be found on HesperiaStar.com.


The next meeting of the Hesperia Unified School District school board will be held on November 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Hesperia Administration and Educational Support Center, 15576 Main Street.


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