Dear Editor – Doubting the District

Dear Editor,

There are myriad reasons to vote no on Measure E, but they all come back to one inalienable truth: the Board as it is currently constructed (as well as a number of district admins) cannot be trusted with our money. This letter will hopefully expose and explore some egregious examples of such behavior, as well as debunk many of the arguments put forth by proponents of this bond.

When former Superintendent Tran closed the schools for three days back in January, 2021, he repeatedly promised to make them up at a later date. He did not. The district was fined $1,000,000 for his incompetence. ONE MILLION DOLLARS. The Board did nothing to penalize, criticize, or explain his actions. No, wait. They actually did one thing. They gave him a five percent raise. Immediately followed by ANOTHER $500,000 to buy him out of his contract. Are these the people you’d trust with 400 million dollars?

Anyone claiming that Measure E will be safeguarded by an oversight committee need look no further than soon-to-be-former Assistant Superintendent of DEI Jennifer Smith’s email directing New Earth to ignore the Measure K oversight committee when members were investigating the improper use of Measure K funds to pay for New Earth services. Ms. Smith is also currently “on leave” pending an investigation into improper use of her district credit card (much of which involved New Earth). Also, how many assistant superintendents do we have? I believe the current number is five, but it may very well be more. Instead of a bloated district hierarchy, why are we still not paying more teachers in order to lower the student-to-teacher ratio? And up until very recently we were paying three actual superintendents (Tran, Martinez_Poulin, and Lucas) at the same time. Are these the people you’d trust with 400 million dollars?

Current Board member Paula Amezola and Ms. Smith are also both on record – in multiple emails – colluding with New Earth by divulging the personal information of parents and other community members with the explicit intent to intimidate anyone who criticizes the district’s relationship with that organization. Due to those actions, seven people were served with cease-and-desist letters by New Earth. The district has also paid New Earth millions of dollars, and in return we’ve received what appears to be…ham sandwiches. Are these the people you’d trust to spend 400 million dollars?

When it comes to the argument that the Board will change in the upcoming election, my response is twofold. First, there’s no guarantee the termed-out members will not run again. Or lose if they do. Or that someone else won’t somehow – God help us all – be even worse than what we have now. In addition, Triston Ezidore will be Board president. Combine his reign with an ideological majority, and…oof. Finally, there will still be seven months remaining in the current term, which is plenty of time to do an incredible amount of damage with that money, including signing contracts with the developers who are circling like vultures, effectively tying up that money for years to come. Don’t believe me? Pick any seven month period from the last three years, and I’ll show you myriad examples of fiscal incompetence and malfeasance. Are these the people you’d trust with 400 million dollars?

Proponents of Measure E are also suddenly concerned about falling ceiling tiles, which would be adorable if not for the fact that parents, students, and school staff have been begging the Board for years to fix them. And the Board has promised to do so. With money the district already has. Only to completely ignore us. But now, when it comes to begging for money by tugging at the community’s heart (and purse) strings, the tiles are front and center. Are these the people you’d trust with 400 million dollars?

Let’s take a look at workforce housing. No, wait. I meant “revenue producing opportunities.” No! “Necessary upgrades to existing district infrastructure in order to best supplement the yadda, yadda, yadda!” It’s all workforce housing. The two district unions (neither of which support Measure E), teachers, and the entire community have come out against workforce housing, and yet it still looms large over this bond. We can’t even keep ceiling tiles where they’re supposed to be, but now we’re going to be employee slumlords? Sure, Amezola has said it’s off the table, but we all know that’s a ridiculously transparent ruse. As mentioned, hundreds of thousands of dollars have poured in from developers all over California, just licking their chops in anticipation of getting their hands on the money if this measure passes. Are these the people you’d trust with 400 million dollars?

Look, we all know the district needs this money. The problem is, the district – meaning our kids, employees, and community stakeholders – won’t be getting it. It’ll be siphoned off to special interests and ridiculous programs that only serve ridiculous ideologies. It’s incredibly unfortunate that anyone thinks otherwise, and even more so that we have to vote against something so desperately needed.

But too many examples of bad actors screwing good people make this a hard No on Measure E.

Thank you,

Terry Gold

The Actors' Gang