Last year, Dr. Tracy Brennan (the lady addressing the crowd in this picture) took over as principal at Saddleback High School in SanTana. She replaced Esther Jones, who made international headlines in 2005 for urging teachers to change the grades of failing seniors. But Brennan hasn't proved particularly popular amongst Saddleback faculty and parents, if one is to believe the comments left at Orange Juice!'s SanTana Unified School District section (and you should--more on this in a future post). We don't blame those folks for despising Brennan--as the Weekly reported a couple of days ago, Brennan has neglected to alert Saddleback parents about the arrest of Alonso Manuel Gonzalez on allegations he sexually molested a disabled student. But, in some ways, an ambivalent attitude when it comes to sex crimes seems to be part of Brennan's modus operandi.
In 2004, Brennan was an assistant superintendent of education at the Anaheim Unified High School District when police arrested 14-year-old Jose Avina on charges he robbed and raped his peers (he's now serving a life sentence for those crimes). As in the Gonzalez case, Brennan was in a situation where she and her superiors neglected to alert parents about a serious case. "I feel devastated for the students that this allegedly happened to," she told the Los Angeles Times then without ever explaining why AUHSD officials waited more than a week after learning Avina tried to rob a boy before letting parents know about the predator. "But I'm glad that it has come to light and police have put an end to it."
Two years later, Brennan sued the Anaheim Union High School District for wrongfully terminating her contract. An Orange County Superior Court judge dismissed the charges, and Brennan appealed the decision to the California Court of Appeals--they, too, did not agree with Brennan. The ruling is telling to the kind of controversy Brennan brings wherever she has set up camp in Orange County. Choice entries from the ruling (and the hyperlink) after the jump!
From Brennan vs. Anaheim Union High School District:
Joseph Farley was hired to be the Superintendent of the District in June 2005, and became Brennans supervisor. Farley immediately was very concerned about Brennans leadership, interpersonal conduct, and method of communication after observing her interactions with the Board and parents at their first Board meeting together on June 16, 2005. Several parents with children in the Districts Puente Program, which Brennan oversaw, addressed the Board about difficulties they were having with her. The parents complained Brennan disrespected and patronized them and was condescending[.] In response to the parents complaints, Brennan made remarks that were so unprofessional that [Farley] immediately became concerned about [her conduct]. Parents subsequently communicated to Farley their total and complete disdain for [Brennan.]
Several staff members and Board members made negative comments to him about Brennans interactions with others. Additionally, Farley believed Brennan lacked sufficient knowledge about instruction to be the leader of instruction for the District. She was unable to engage in any meaningful discussions about instruction and typically did not participate at all at meetings with school principals concerning instruction issues.
But the best part is this:
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Although Brennan appeared to dodge scheduling an evaluation meeting with Farley, he eventually had his first meeting with her in December 2005 at which they discussed her specific deficiencies. They had two more meetings in January at which he advised Brennan she must be less controlling of others. Farley reviewed with Brennan numerous incidents in which she had said or done things he believed were totally inappropriate for management. The behaviors included cussing at and threatening subordinates; using demeaning and sexist language when addressing Julie Mitchell, the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources; holding the hand of Tim Holcomb, a Deputy Superintendent, for prolonged period of time while talking to him and calling him Timmy; constantly touching and hugging coworkers, including Farley who she would approach saying hugs as she would reach to embrace him.
Holler! Brennan's own boss accused her of sexual harassment! Having Brennan preside over over a sex crime is like putting Orange Bishop Tod D. Brown in charge of prosecuting pedophiles--ain't gonna happen.
If Saddleback parents are smart at all, they'll be calling for Brennan's resignation. But, considering they don't even know about Gonzalez at this point, it's probably not going to happen--and that's a damn shame.
More to come on this story...