"Bullies thrive where authority is weak." Tim Field
"Never be bullied into silence." Harvey S. Firestone
I first became acquainted with Chris Bentley as he spoke during the public comment segment of an HUSD board meeting at Sultana High School the summer of 2006. Mr. Bentley protested the HUSD photo shop and was abruptly cut-off in mid-sentence by Board President Eric Swanson. (I watched the same scenario repeat at every 2006 Board meeting.) Obviously Mr. Bentley was treated quite rudely even though his view of the HUSD photo shop had merit and deserved the Board's consideration.
I approached Mr. Bentley during the break between "open" and "closed" sessions and questioned him as to why he was so passionate in his assault on the HUSD Board? He explained that his children attended Maple Elementary School and had been unfairly marked "truant." His attempt to change their absences to "excused" had hit an immovable bureaucratic wall. To Chris Bentley this was intolerable! The establishment would not bend so it was time to dismantle it by declaring "all out war!"
Since that conversation I have watched a pattern emerge. Agree with Chris Bentley and you're an OK person. He'll engage you in civil conversation, treat you cordially, and may even express support for you in one of his many "letters to the editor." But, disagree with him and you likely will become a target of his disdain, a pawn to be ground-up in his personal "war." Since he does not work to support his family, once he delivers his children at school he has all day to focus attention on the battle of his choosing.
Mr. Bentley considers himself smarter than most anyone else and seems to relish confrontation and pushing things beyond the braking point. In my experience no one "pulls out all the stops" like he does. He will do whatever it takes to cajole, intimidate, harass, bully, beat down, destroy or annihilate anyone who gets in his way!
The list of individuals who have been the object of this treatment is by no means complete but includes:
1. District office personnel: Richard Bray, Rob Challinor, Mark McKinney, Hank Richardson, William Freeman, George Landon, David McLaughlin, Jovy Yankaskas, Matt Spencer, Patrick Traynor, Laura Carevic, Larry Bird, Terry Barrett, Becky Shreve, Ruth Ter Keurst, Jean Campbell
2. School personnel: Bill Pittsford, Karen Elgan, Scott Sheffield, Alan Cota, Karen Prestwood, Dan Boatwright, Jennifer Ruiz, Rebecca Swanson, Sandi Utter, Robert Kistner, Vicki Kirk, Patty Staples
3. Board Members: Eric Swanson, Bruce Minton, Nellie Gogley, Lee Rogers, Hardy Black, Helen Rogers & husband Marlon, Robert Kirk & son Mark, Anthony Riley & mother Cathy Rough
4. School Board Candidates: Ellen Richardson & Chris Lindsay
5. Chala Salsbury and parents of Crosswalk High School
6. Debra Tarver and parents of La Verne Elementary School
7. HUSD police personnel: Chief Michael Graham, Corporal Brian Owen, Officer William Holland, Secretary Rene Woldrige
8. The Hesperia Teachers Association leadership team
9. The California Service Employees Association #684 leadership team
10. Hesperia Star reporter Beau Yarbrough and editor Peter Day
11. Attorneys Dennis Wagner & Tristan Pelayes
I am sure there are many more who have been the objects of Mr. Bentley's bullying, but these I have personally witnessed, been told by a witness, or the individual themselves. Bullying is debilitating to those uses it on. I call on fellow Board members to do something to stop it! I HOPE THEY LISTEN before it destroys our school district! But bullying is by no means the most insidious weapon in Bentley's arsenal! In subsequent letters to the editor I will provide more examples of Chris Bentley's weapons of war!
Editor's Note: Hesperia Star reporter Beau Yarbrough says he has not been intimidated or mistreated by Mr. Bentley. Others mentioned in Mr. Black's letter are welcome to share their views or clarify, or deny, Mr. Black's assertions. Mr. Black is an elected member of the Hesperia Unified School District's board of education.