Members of the San Ysidro teacher’s union held signs, “SYSD Needs Velasquez” at the district offices on Tuesday, January 27. Supporters were there before the San Ysidro Elementary School District board voted 3-2 to hire Edward Velasquez as the district’s new interim superintendent.
George Cameron resigned on January 12th under pressure from newly elected trustee Rudolfo Linares, who in December called for Cameron to step down based on an incident that involved "the disappearance of a number of musical instruments owned by the district."
The board meeting agenda for December 11, 2014, shows that Linares and newly elected Marcos Diaz attended the 2014 CSBA Annual Education Conference and Trade Show in San Francisco from December 14 to 16 for a total cost to the district of $4500. Linares said that he met Mr. Velasquez at the conference and began to tell him about San Ysidro’s troubles.
Martin Galante, member of the San Ysidro Education Association (SYEA) and a kindergarten teacher at Willow Elementary, explained that the board then brought the teachers' union into the process of hiring a new interim superintendent.
Speaking about the choice of Velasquez, Galante said, “He was brought, I believe, to Mr. Linares’s attention. They interviewed him. They approved him. They contacted us. We met with him for two hours at the union offices.”
Trustees held a special meeting on January 22 to interview two candidates: Dianna Carberry, a former principal of Orange Glen High School; and Velasquez, a retired superintendent from Montebello Unified School District. Both had been named in lawsuits involving their districts in the past.
Zenaid Rosario, a dual-language kindergarten teacher at Smythe Elementary, asked the board that a decision not be made so quickly. “It has come to the attention of many in this community that there is a shadow of concern over the head of the person you want to recommend for employment in this position. And though they may just be allegations or false accusations, we don’t need that kind of attention.”
Carol Wallace, president of the San Ysidro Education Association, also told the board that the teachers’ union sat down with Velasquez several Saturdays ago.
“He basically told us his life: about joining the police force, being a guitar player, and he also mentioned the lawsuit. First of all, there’s no ongoing investigation with this lawsuit. This lawsuit happened over four years ago and the case was dismissed with prejudice. That means it cannot be opened again. So, he does not have to deal with any legal issues as far as the Montebello case is concerned. This case was filed by a disgruntled employee.”
After the motion passed, with José Barajas and Luciana Corrales voting “no,” Barajas commented, “I feel that there was really no need for an interim at this time…. This will be our fourth superintendent in two years.”
Velasquez’s contract starts on February 2. His salary will be $15,000 per month.
After the decision, Galante commented, “Really, we need someone to get us out of negative certification and he’s the only person that can do it. The last district he was in, two months and they were out.”