Former Mammoth Unified School Superintendent Rich Boccia abruptly resigned from his post about two weeks ago, purportedly for personal reasons.
Of course, no one really bought the vague explanation.
What’s worse, no one stepped forward to elaborate. The usual can’t-discuss-personnel-matters line.
MUSD Board Chair Betty Kittle issued the following statement Thursday:
“Our board discusses district leadership and management issues on a regular basis, as it is one of our most essential responsibilities.
“Whether talking about a superintendent or a substitute teacher, members of the Board of Education don’t discuss personnel matters in public. Breaching confidentiality serves only to compromise all our employees’ confidence in the District’s integrity as an employer.”
The problem with the stonewalling is that it only serves to fuel rumors and speculation.
The following is what The Sheet learned this week as to what may have been contributing factors in Boccia’s resignation.
The MUSD Board did file a complaint against Boccia to the Mono County District Attorney’s office for violations of California Education Code sections 7053, 7054 and 7058.
What these sections cover are elections.
D.A. Tim Kendall told The Sheet that Boccia used his school email account to correspond with individuals in regard to supporting a particular candidate for office (in last November’s election) and that Boccia encouraged candidate Luis Villanueva to attend a school meeting where other candidates had not been invited.
“He just barely overstepped his bounds, basically,” said Kendall.
Kendall said Boccia did not dispute the D.A.’s findings and agreed to pay a $750 fine and complete an ethics training class covering schools and election codes. Kendall said Boccia fully acknowledged that he had been in error.
Former School Board member Greg Newbry, who left the Board in December, said that the Board (during his tenure) had expressed a desire to find someone from the hispanic community to run for a seat.
But Luis Villanueva, who ultimately ran for the seat, said he was not recruited to run by Boccia, but rather, was encouraged by many community members, particularly co-worker Lisa Baldwin and MMSA’s Bob Peckenpaugh.
“Rich Boccia did not ask me to run for School Board,” said Villanueva. In fact, Villanueva said he really didn’t know Boccia very well, and that he visited him just once to gather information about what the job of School Board member entailed.
As to Boccia extending an invitation to a Board meeting, Villanueva says he does not recall receiving an email or phone call, and never attended a School Board meeting prior to the election.
“I ran because the district is 61% hispanic and people urging me to run thought it would set a good precedent, that I could be a good role model,” said Villanueva, General Manager of the Mammoth Mountain Inn.
Rick Phelps believes the incident in question occurred while Phelps was organizing a Candidate’s Forum for the Chamber.
“We told Rich if he could take care of contacting Luis, we’d contact the other candidates,” recalled Phelps.
Newbry said, “Boccia is the best superintendent we’ve ever had.” He then qualified that to say among the best, including Rich McAteer.
“Teachers would see Boccia quite often [at the high school] but never see the principal,” Newbry continued. “He had a strong type-A personality. He was a workaholic. And he had the same expectation of those around him. The teachers weren’t used to working that hard.”
“It is disconcerting that the Board won’t disclose what happened,” he added.
When asked about rumors of Boccia and sexual harassment, Newbry said “I never heard any allegations of sexual harassment while I was on the Board.”
That, one district teacher told The Sheet, is because the allegations didn’t surface until January. This teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the MUSD Board hired an investigator to look into a harassment allegation, and that multiple persons citing multiple instances of harassment stepped forward.
As Newbry says, one way or another, the School Board should say something.
“In most jurisdictions, they do the ‘Dance of the Lemon.’” By that, Newbry means a person is let go without a particular reason being given to show up on his record later, thus making it easier for someone to bounce from one district to the next because the skeletons get buried.
“If he’s guilty, you’re just passing on the problem [to another district]. If he’s not guilty, then give us a reason [why you let him go].”
From MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory: “Pass sales kick off only for current MVP members on March 18, 2013. This year’s price is $679 for renewing pass holders through March 31. This price increases when we open MVP sales to the general public on April 1. To make it as affordable as possible for kids to ski and ride, I have decided to lower the price of our child’s pass to $199 for ages 7-12 and, of course, those 6 and under and 80 or over will continue to get free lift tickets.
… I am happy to announce the 2013/14 MVP will once again allow unlimited skiing at both Mammoth and June Mountains. Yes, June Mountain will be re-opening next year.”
State Routes 120 East and 158 South reopened from winter closure this week. As is often the case this time of year, the opening is dependent on favorable weather. If the area is impacted by inclement weather Caltrans may have to re-close the highway. Check local highway conditions by calling 1.800.427.7623
Boo, Bacon round out Friends of Inyo Board of Directors
Friends of the Inyo added Dr. Tom Boo of Bishop and Jo Bacon of Mammoth Lakes to its Board of Directors during its February board meeting. Boo and Bacon join fellow FOI Board members Dave Herbst, Mike Prather, James Wilson, Chris Lizza, Steve McLaughin and Bill Mitchel.
MCWD tests for chromium-6
Recently, the public was reminded of the potential hazards of chromium-6 in the nation’s water supply by a PBS News presentation called “Toxic Clout.” Chromium-6 is the chemical that was brought to the public’s attention in the movie “Erin Brockovich.” In the film, groundwater contaminated with chromium-6 from a Pacific Gas and Electric facility was linked with locally high rates of cancer in Hinkley, Calif.
The Mammoth Community Water District would like customers to know that all of our water supply sources have been specifically checked for chromium-6 and no detectable levels have ever been found. Current state and federal regulations require water suppliers monitor total chromium levels. No federal or state maximum contaminant levels for chromium-6 exist although the state is expected to approve the maximum contaminant levels in July 2015.
Teller wins bronze at Worlds
John Teller made more ski cross history becoming the first American ski cross racer to podium at the Voss/Oslo World Ski Champs Ski Cross Finals in Norway on March 10, where Teller took home a bronze. Next stops are races in Sweden and Sierra Nevada, Spain, before returning home to Mammoth Lakes.
Youth Sports funding
The Town of Mammoth Lakes awards $23,400 annually to youth sporting organizations in need of additional funding to supplement organized, non-profit, youth sporting programs operating in and around Mammoth Lakes.
Applications are available at the Town of Mammoth Lakes Recreation Department Office located in the Minaret Village Mall, above Giovanni’s or on www.mammothrecreation.com.Applications must be received by the Recreation Department office by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 22.
The Recreation Commission will review applications on Tuesday, April 9, and recommend funding to the Town Council for awarding in May. Special attention will be given to organized sport programs and activities that are a non-profit organization, involve a high number of local participants, including volunteers, are made available to the children in our local area, encourage participation by our diverse population and/or need support due to limited funding.
Representatives from each organization are encouraged to attend the Recreation Commission meeting on Tuesday, April 9, in Suite Z at 2 p.m. where the Commission will make their recommendations.
More info: Stephanie Daniel at 760.934.8989, ext. 237.