Editorial: Did a bunny book really lead to Dublin superintendent's ouster? | News | PleasantonWeekly.com |

News


Editorial: Did a bunny book really lead to Dublin superintendent's ouster?

After nearly 7 months, final batch of public records reveal little about Boozer's sudden departure back in March

There was so much mystery around the abrupt departure of Dublin Unified School District superintendent Leslie Boozer in March that our staff immediately started seeking answers. It was truly suspect after the abrupt resignation March 1 of school board trustee Dan Cunningham, who campaigned for and won the seat only months earlier.

Unable to get answers, we filed a California Public Records Act request April 5, days after the "mutual separation" between Boozer and DUSD, for documents including Boozer's separation agreement and Cunningham's resignation letter and any correspondence between district staff and representatives, the Dublin Teachers Association and board trustees in reference to complaints filed formally, and anything that referenced Boozer's employment status between Sept. 1, 2018, and April 5, 2019.

Pieces started to trickle in slowly. We received Cunningham's letter and Boozer's employment contract and separation agreement on April 15, followed by a request for additional time and to further hone our request -- which we agreed to in part.

Then, on Oct. 2, we received a list of district administrators and the superintendent's cabinet members from 2014-2019.

The last piece -- complaints and responses in particular -- was what we thought would finally shed light on what had happened.

On Oct. 31, almost seven months after our initial request, we received three documents from the district's outside law firm, Lozano Smith.

It's difficult to believe that it took that long to find three documents. It's easier to believe it took that long to figure out how to hide a multitude of other documents via one of the plethora of exceptions to disclosure, such as attorney-client privilege or "confidential student information."

Otherwise, if what we were given is truly the reason Boozer and the district abruptly parted ways, leaving the district leaderless and her with almost a half a million taxpayer dollars, it is because of a book donation.

"A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo" by Jill Twiss, an LGBTQ-themed parody of a book by Vice President Mike Pence's family about their real-life pet, was donated as a library book by Roberta Kreitz, then-president of the Dublin Teachers Association. The book details the same-sex romance between Marlon Bundo and another rabbit named Wesley, written to mock the vice president's anti-LGBTQ views.

Apparently Kreitz was miffed that the bunny book wasn't automatically placed on the library shelves, citing the students' rights under the California FAIR Act and a nondiscrimination policy. She submitted a formal complaint Feb. 11.

The Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act compels the inclusion of the political, economic and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people into educational textbooks and the social studies curricula in California public schools.

Boozer responded to Kreitz's complaint Feb. 21, by citing another board policy that addresses the appropriateness of instructional materials. When a parent, guardian, staff member or district resident makes a complaint about instructional material, the superintendent and/or a committee will review the material and make a decision.

These documents leave us with the impression that the teachers' union president was trying to antagonize Boozer by donating books that she had to have known some parents -- particularly elementary school parents -- would object to having available, then filing a formal complaint with the board when they weren't made available.

Is the timing of the formal complaint -- amid tense labor negotiations, and weeks before Boozer's departure -- just a coincidence?

Equally as coincidental is the timing of the termination of Lisa Gonzales, assistant superintendent of educational services, who later filed a lawsuit against the district, Boozer and others, claiming retaliation, discrimination and defamation among the reasons she is demanding a jury trial.

Nothing about this lawsuit or the many "whistleblower" complaints filed with Boozer by Gonzales were included in the documents we received. And, because organizations no longer have to list documents they are withholding and the reason when responding to a records request, we don't even know if they were found and withheld, let alone why.

Some of the myriad of whistleblower complaints fell outside our request timeframe; but the actual termination on Oct. 18, 2018 and the filing of the claim for damages March 5 did.

Another interesting coincidence was that Cunningham is mentioned in the civil complaint. Gonzales had emailed Cunningham several times about concerns she had about the performance of a colleague, assistant superintendent of human resources Mark McCoy, and Boozer's lack of holding McCoy accountable. She requested a special investigation of McCoy by the board.

Our records request left us with no answers; our discovery of Gonzales' complaint leaves us with more questions. We will report on the lawsuit, which was amended Nov. 15 to remove Boozer as a defendant.

And we will file another public records request.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Dysfunction Junction
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2019 at 8:18 pm

Seems like all of a sudden DUSD is suddenly fixing roofs in its buildings.

Oh boy, Lozano Smith and an investigation by Kingsley/Bogard. Dysfunction junction. Allegations of an affair. Instead of leaving notes with unfounded allegations between an administrator and a teacher, now it is unfounded allegations between an administrator and a board member.

It would seem appropriate for the Pleasanton Weekly needs to obtain the approximate 22 emails Gonzales sent to Cunningham regarding complaints again Mark McCoy. In addition, it should probably obtain the details regarding all out of state travel the DUSD personnel did without board approval including the superintendent.

Oh, yes. And DUSD "working to rule." What a mess.


8 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2019 at 10:13 pm

Keep up the good work, Pleasanton Weekly. I hope you get to the bottom of this mess and expose what's really going on.


Like this comment
Posted by Disk Man
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2019 at 9:36 am

Good work, Pleasanton Weekly.

Too bad you didn't investigate the mysterious departure of a high-level employee in the DUSD finance department in the 2016-2017 timeframe. Rumors were flying that this employee made of with millions in DUSD funds (i.e. taxpayer's money). This employee faded into the woodwork, so to speak, with nobody apparently knowing her whereabouts.


Like this comment
Posted by Gina Channell, Publisher
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 19, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Gina Channell, Publisher is a registered user.

@ Disk Man - If you have a name, title or any other information, please email me at gchannell@pleasantonweekly.com.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Big money pouring into Livermore referendums
By Tim Hunt | 10 comments | 1,796 views

You Can Help: Scents and Migraines
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 719 views