HESPERIA After months of public battles with the superintendent and school board president, Hesperia Unified School District's chief of police has been fired.


The HUSD school board emerged from a closed session meeting Thursday evening to announce that, by a 3-2 vote, Mike Graham was out.


"The board hereby terminates Mr. Graham's employment with the district, effective immediately," board president Chris Bentley said, reading from aprepared statement.


Board members Bentley, Eric Swanson and Niccole Childs voted to deny Graham's appeal, while board members Hardy Black and Anthony Riley had voted in favor of it.


Graham, Bentley and Superintendent Mark McKinney publicly feuded through most of 2011. When Graham was informed that McKinney intended to terminate his employment, the chief asked that his termination hearing be held in public.


In testimony given during Graham's public hearing the week before, McKinney alleged the police chief had been insubordinate and had sought to hold him up for ridicule in a fight over the police force's mission and leadership. Graham denied those charges and said he'd been trying to implement a new set of directives from McKinney, which had limited the authority of the force.


"I am leaving HUSD without regret, my head up, and proud of the police officers still serving," Graham said in a written statement released Thursday night. "I am giving them a parting directive to remain positive, stay focused on their mission, and not let my termination influence their thoughts or behavior negatively. The children and staff of HUSD will, without doubt, continue to be in their good hands."


A former Air Force Security Forces officer, a deputy with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and a deputy marshal with the now-defunct San Bernardino County Marshal's Department, Graham had been with the HUSD Police Department since 2001. He was appointed chief in April 2008.


The next meeting of the HUSD school board will be a facilities workshop 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.