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Letters to the Editor 01-24-12

McKinney abusing power; Bentley not neutral

I find it strange that Chris Bentley is the judge, jury and executioner in the public termination hearing of Hesperia Unified police chief Mike Graham. Isn’t the judge in most cases a neutral party? Bentley has shown he is not neutral. In fact, he is deeply involved with the termination of Chief Graham.

Bentley, is it true during a closed session meeting, you told the school district’s attorney you wanted Chief Graham fired? And when the attorney asked what “Graham should be fired for,” you and Eric Swanson said “insubordination.” Then, when the attorney asked what he was insubordinate about, did you respond, “You’re the attorney, figure it out?”

Isn’t it the duty of the superintendent to handle issues of personnel, not board members? Bentley personally has degraded and disrespected Chief Graham on many occasions. He has called him names like Deputy Dog and referred to him as a Rent-a-Cop, and his Rent-a-Cop department. Strange?

At every level of this administration from teachers, principal, directors, administrators and actually all employees, they all live by the same mantra: Stay below the Bentley radar, stay defensive, do not be proactive for the fear of standing out.

That, Mr. Bentley, is what every employee of the district gets to see and fear every working day.

Mark McKinney, superintendent of Hesperia Unified School District, prohibited any HUSD police officer from attending this open public meeting on Friday. He said for the safety of the district, he has the right to deny any time off.

McKinney has every right to deny a vacation, comp or even a furlough day. However, he does not have the right to deny a “No Questions Asked Day.” Per board policy 4361.2(a), school police officers are entitled to the same personal necessity leave as a classified employee, and are directed to reference the classified bargaining agreement regarding the leave. Classified employees are allowed two “No Questions Asked Days” without reason or approval. Nowhere does it state McKinney may change policy or break binding contracts at his discretion. That’s what happens when the school board and superintendent rule by fear and intimidation so they can punish any employee with unpaid administrative leave for speaking out, or speaking the truth, or for attending Friday’s public meeting. (That’s President Bentley’s new board policy.)

McKinney broke the HUSD policy and a collective bargaining contract. I believe the board, as his supervisors, should look into this matter and take appropriate action against McKinney for breaking policy.

With McKinney as superintendent of the Hesperia Unified School District, you have paid hundreds of thousands of our taxpayers’ dollars in settlement claims because of his bad management choices.

Now, after the settlement you will have to pay Chief Graham for his wrongful termination, the HUSD Board will have paid well over $1 million of tax money in settlements under McKinney’s stewardship.

Mark, I leave you with a famous phrase that even you use, but it rings so very true — a phrase that you have stated so many times to your employees in the past but it applies to you: “You are not a good fit for this

district.”

Gary Owen


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Hesperia
Los Angeles
Riverside
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