The Sweetwater Union High School District has been without a superintendent, or interim superintendent, for close to a month now. At the last board meeting, president Pearl Quiñones told the public to direct all district concerns to Maria Castilleja, director of curriculum and instruction, who would be serving as “the duty officer.” Nobody informed teachers or the community that former interim superintendent Ed Brand had resigned — his empty chair was the only clue.
Due to a recent ruling that changed the way the California State Teachers’ Retirement System works, Brand’s retirement would have been reduced because he also had a $20,000 consultant’s contract with the district.
Brand recently said to the U-T, “In the July board meeting I told the board that I had to officially resign as of August 31 and that I would be comfortable volunteering.” (Brand had signed a new contract in June, extending his “interim superintendent” status to December.)
Brand explained the situation this way: “I needed to know if somebody didn’t like a decision I made, I’d have the same protection I would have as a consultant or as a superintendent….” In the end, Brand didn’t volunteer to continue serving as interim superintendent; he went home and has been waiting for a new contract.
In the same September 20 U-T article, Brand said he had been led to believe that the board would make a decision on a contract on August 20, then again on September 6. But now the contract discussion appears to be happening on Monday, September 24.
Alex Anguiano, president of the Sweetwater Education Association, has called for the contract to be posted with the agenda for the purpose of transparency — the agenda is expected to be posted late today, September 21.
On the education association’s Facebook page, Anguiano speculates about the contents of the contract:
“Will he be offered a life insurance package greater than yours or mine? I do not believe that his life is worth more than ours. Will there be a buy-out clause? [Remember the last superintendent Jesus Gandara’s buy-out clause.] Will he have the same benefits cap as us? Will he maintain his same rate of pay or will he be offered an increase. I do not predict that he will lead by example. What other perks will he get? Will the contract grant him the authority to circumvent the Board?”
The Sweetwater Education Association’s representative council voted “no confidence” in Brand on September 17. Anguiano will join others who are urging the board not to give Brand a contract in a press conference prior to Monday’s board meeting.
In a September 21 interview, Anguiano said, "It is my understanding that the board will go into closed session first to discuss the contract. Then they will give the audience hard copies of the contract and vote on it. That does not give us enough time. I want to go through it with a fine-tooth comb."
When asked why the education association representative council voted “no confidence,” Anguiano said, "We are looking for someone who has the qualities of honesty, transparency, and integrity. This superintendent [Brand] doesn't have those qualities."