When I wrote that the Capistrano Unified School District board of trustees had walked into a "public relations disaster" by not disclosing why they were suspending the district's superintendent, I may have been a little unfair to the board. Then again, following the law never guaranteed anyone good PR. Just ask, I dunno, Katherine Harris.
I spoke with School Board President Ellen Addonizio last Thursday, two days after a closed-session meeting of the Trustees resulted in a 6-1 vote putting Superintendent Woodrow Carter on paid administrative leave. She says privacy policies prevent the trustees from explaining why they sent away the superintendent after hundreds of people spoke in his favor at two consecutive meetings.
"I would love to discuss it," she said, seeming genuinely exasperated about the board's silence. "We have argued and argued with our attorneys about this. But any personnel matter, we can't talk about it."
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That's the legal gist of a statement posted on the CUSD website last Saturday: "The employee's right of privacy derives from the State Constitution, as well as other statutory provisions and case law."
The one person who might be able to explain why Carter was suspended is Carter himself, but he's not talking yet.
It's a pretty safe bet, though, that the 500 people who showed up to the last board meeting aren't going to let the issue go so easily. This letter in the Register, without a hint of irony, compares Carter to Winston Churchill. Another Register article chronicles the outcry about Carter's ousting and indicates plans might be in the works for yet another recall drive.
In the meantime, there's a regular board meeting scheduled for tonight -- the second one since the all-"reform" slate took office. And there's a late addition to the agenda of a closed-session item potentially appointing an interim superintendent. Addonizio says the item is just a Brown-Act-mandated formality to allow even preliminary discussions about replacing Carter. Despite some speculation to the contrary, she says they've got no candidates lined up at this point. Perhaps FDR's grandkid would be up for the job?