Others are bound to disagree about whether the Gay and Lesbian Times is pornographic. Its parent company, Uptown Publications, Inc., does publish Rocket Magazine, a more sexually explicit free paper supported by local advertising. But no one has accused Rood of selling its ads.
What does the Mark Twain High School community think about Mike Rood’s extracurricular work? He does have supporters. But critics suspect that that’s because Rood has the power to reward teachers with overtime, they say. District principals are supposed to hand out overtime assignments only as a last resort. “But if the district looked into every principal’s assignment of overtime,” one source tells me, “that’s all they would be doing.”
Several sources acknowledge that in the last six months district officials have questioned a number of teachers at Mark Twain High about Rood. The use of overtime pay is one aspect of his behavior that the district wanted to know about. Two others are his work for the Gay and Lesbian Times and what some claim is retaliation by Rood in getting teachers transferred to other schools.
The Gay and Lesbian Times has not tipped its hand on any plans to take Yuhas to task again. But the paper did hint it might have something to say about the Mark Twain principal’s investigation by the school district. After I called to ask about Rood’s current employment status with the paper, Portantino wrote me the following in an email: “The Gay and Lesbian Times does not make public comment on potential news events that we have not yet published.”
A significant news story now would be what the San Diego Unified School District plans to do about its investigation of Rood. So far it isn’t talking. Some teachers at Mark Twain High are not happy about that.
They believe that it is inappropriate for a high school principal to work for a gay and lesbian newspaper that sells sexually explicit ads. But has the district decided those teachers have been on a witch hunt? Or that Rood’s behavior didn’t rise to a level requiring disciplinary action?
I asked an experienced principal in another school district about the appropriateness of Rood’s outside work. “Schools nowadays comply with laws that allow students to have gay clubs on campus,” he told me. “Employees have to have corresponding protections. I don’t see how a district could legally punish a working principal for affiliating with a gay magazine. Whether it’s pornographic would raise another issue. But his doing the work on school time and using school computers would show a definite lack of good judgment. Principals have to use their judgment every day on both large and small issues.”