Though it wasn't on the agenda, Hesperia Unified police chief Mike Graham's termination hearing overshadowed Monday night's school board meeting and helped trigger a formal announcement that former board member Lee Rogers will be running for reelection.


"Chris Bentley has hated Chief Graham since before the 2008 elections that put Mr. Bentley into office," HUSD police officer and Hesperia City Councilman Bill Holland told the audience at Monday night's meeting. The meeting was held at Oak Hills High School, rather than the district office, as part of a plan to tour school board meetings around the district in coming months.


The school board, headed by board president Bentley, will ultimately decide Graham's fate at the end of his hearing, which began Friday and is set to pick up again Wednesday. Graham, Bentley and Superintendent Mark McKinney publicly feuded through most of 2011 and when Graham was informed that McKinney intended to terminate his employment, the chief asked that his termination hearing be held in public.


On Friday, Graham's attorney argued that both Bentley and board vice-president Eric Swanson had demonstrated a clear bias against the chief and asked that they be recused from the proceedings. Bentley decided that Swanson could serve. Swanson, who took over when Bentley recused himself for the decision, decided Bentley could remain part of the hearing as well. (An attorney representing the district's case against Graham made a similar bias argument about board members Hardy Black and Anthony Riley and Bentley decided they should remain part of the hearing as well.)


"Having Mr. Swanson decide if Mr. Bentley is biased would be like appearing before a judge whose brother is the prosecutor and the judge's family is the jury," Holland said.


"I remember when our HUSD letterhead said 'Kids First.' I wonder what happened to that novel concept," said former board member Lee Rogers. "You have chosen to fire our chief of police for absolutely no reason except for personal agendas.


"It is rumored that members of this board and our superintendent want to get rid of our police department and use campus aides," Rogers continued. "If this is true, why not go to the people of Hesperia and ask them if they want our police department disbanded?"


Holland and Rogers had a joint announcement to make Monday night:


"I am proud to announce that Mrs. Lee Rogers is announcing her candidacy for the 2012 election to the HUSD board of trustees," Holland said. "I will be serving as her campaign manager and I will be working with Lee and other candidates to make sure Chris Bentley's time ends in November as a board member."


The next regular meeting of the HUSD school board will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 6 in the HUSD Educational Support Center Annex, 15576 Main Street.


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.