Monday, February 19 , 2018, 7:03 am | Fair 47º


Teachers Air Concerns About Candidate Believed to Be Finalist for Santa Maria-Bonita’s Top Job

Santa Maria-Bonita School District educators on Wednesday spoke out against the man believed to be the top candidate for the superintendent job, urging board members not to pick the person who “brings along baggage from past indiscretions or poor decision-making.”

The board is searching for a person to replace Phil Alvarado, the district’s superintendent since 2009.

Teachers believe John Ramirez Jr. is the top candidate after learning two board members and the district lawyer visited the Alisal School District in Salinas last week. Ramirez has led the Alisal district since 2010.

Several members of the Santa Maria Elementary Education Association asked the board not to hire Ramirez. 

“The selection of a superintendent is one that affects every employee of the district,” said Segura, a fourth-grade teacher and president of SMEEA. “A great candidate can elevate the successes of a district while also moving it forward. An inferior candidate can detract from what a district has accomplished and bog it down in unwanted attention and poor decision-making.”

Segura also expressed disappointment the board didn’t include classified and certificated unions in the search for a new superintendent or the visit to Salinas.

Ramirez has been the focus of a sexual harassment allegation by a former employee, votes of no confidence from two classified and certificated employee unions in 2013, an investigation into reported misuse of a district credit card and censure of his teaching credential after pleading no contest to a charge of hit-and-run.

“A superintendent is not a person who works in the shadows,” Segura said. “He or she is the voice and face of a district. Their actions, both professionally and personally, reflect on the entire district.”

He called on the board to conduct a wider and more comprehensive search.

“A wider and more comprehensive search can bring out folks who with good moral character who are not bogged down with a history of indiscretion, allegations and poor decision making,’ Segura said. 

Santa Maria-Bonita psychologist Joel Orozco formerly worked four years in the Alisal district.

“Mr. Ramirez does have strengths to present, but far too many weaknesses for us to really consider having him as our leader and representative,” Orozco said, adding there was a reason the Alisal teachers’ union cast a vote of no confidence for Ramirez. 

Ramirez recently was a candidate for the Salinas City School District job, according to the Salinas Californian

The article noted Ramirez took the helm at a tumultuous time for the Alisal district, which had been taken over by the state and has since regained local control.

However, Salinas City decided against hiring Ramirez, who told the Monterey Herald he withdrew his application.

After the statements Wednesday night, board members went into closed session where one topic involved employment of the superintendent. The closed session discussions lasted more than five hours. The board reported no action related to the superintendent search, but did say direction was given to staff.

Before that, Jody Oliver, board president, expressed appreciation for the comments from the educators who filled two-thirds of the audience.

“We have heard this. We will take them into consideration,” Oliver said, noting the board members are made up of “Santa Maria people” who have been in the district a long time. “We want you to know that we would not do anything to hurt this school district — the teachers, the students and the people of this community. We hope that you will trust us. We’re not going to be able to please everyone, but we would certainly hope that you will trust our judgment.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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