Trustee decries lack of diversity in district office
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Apr 11, 2014 | 8300 views | 28 28 comments | 55 55 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A routine vote by the Tracy Unified School District board Tuesday to approve a contract for the new superintendent became one trustee’s statement about a lack of diversity in district leadership.

The $180,000 contract for Dr. Brian Stephens was approved by five trustees, with one abstaining and one absent.

Trustee Walter Gouveia abstained in protest of what he called a lack of diversity in the district’s hiring practices. He spoke of the vast diversity among local students and the few district-level positions held by people of different cultures.

On Thursday, Gouveia said in a telephone interview that the district should have dug deeper to understand the demographics of the student population and who would best represent them.

“You can be inclusive or you can be exclusive,” he said. “This is the new Tracy, these are the children coming.”

Gouveia said that the board had feedback from several communities within Tracy but he questioned whether trustees had used that information.

“Hispanic, Punjab and Persian (spoke), and I know (the board) heard them, but did they internalize it?” he said. “The board chose who they chose and they have their rationale and that is fine. I’m talking about all groups that need representation. I think (trustees) had an opportunity and they decided what they wanted to decide.”

He said the decision about a new superintendent should have reflected future changes in the student population.

Gouveia added that there was a candidate who had the qualifications he was seeking, but that person was not chosen by the majority of the board.

During Tuesday’s board meeting James Vaughn, president of the board, reiterated that the majority of the board had voted in favor of Stephens. He said the candidates were diverse and the decision was based on their qualifications.

“We chose the best person for the job,” he said. “No one will ever fill Dr. (James) Franco’s shoes, but I respect Dr. Stephens.”

Trustee Gregg Crandall said that when the board initially chose Stephens, he was “the biggest fan of Dr. Stephens.”

Stephens will begin as superintendent on July 1, the day after Franco retires on June 30.

The board also approved a transition agreement that will allow Stephens to spend 10 days between April 9 and June 30 in the district to work with Franco and become familiar with operations. Stephens will make $800 each day he visits, which is based upon his annual salary divided by the 225 days he is required to work each year.

“It’s an opportunity to be part of the district management team meeting and other meetings around the school district and meet people and learn about the district from Dr. Franco,” Danoy said, “(an) opportunity to get his feet wet with Dr. Franco here.”

“Dr. Stephens is really excited to move to Tracy and learn about the community and integrate himself to the community and the district,” Danoy added. “He hopes to be here no later than July.”

Charter school improvements planned

In other business, the board of trustees voted 6-0-1 on Tuesday to approve a facilities lease agreement for the Tracy Learning Center for Primary, Discovery and Millennium High charter schools. The vote also covered an agreement to rehabilitate the TLC campus using state money and matching funds from Measure B, if the measure passes June 3.

Measure B will ask voters within Tracy Unified School District to approve an $82 million school bond to continue renovating and modernizing Tracy schools.

TLC consultant Jim Bush said charter school officials planned to apply to the state board of education for funds for each school within three or four days of Tuesday’s meeting. The next step, he said, would be planning how to rehabilitate the campus, beginning with the portion occupied by Millennium High School.

The school board was also scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to renew the charter of Primary Charter School, but changes in the petition forced the vote to be tabled. Vaughn explained that because the changes had not been publicized, the board would have to wait until a later meeting.

TLC officials said that they understood the procedure and that they had a 30-day window to get the five-year charter renewal approved by the trustees.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at drizzo@tracypress.com or 830-4225.

 
Comments
(28)
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victor_jm
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April 14, 2014
Mr. Pal.

I am wondering why the leaders of this country have allowed it to become a place where, as you state, “students aren’t able to communicate with teachers and administrators.” If this is the case, what is your solution? Might I rephrase your complaint as “the pupils aren’t meeting the requisite needs (or standards) of the teachers?” What is the etiology of this problem? Please don’t be ambiguous—are you saying we don’t speak the same language, as in English? Perhaps you ought to examine and excoriate the benighted media culture these disaffected youth groups saturate themselves with any time they succumb to an electronic device. I always keep a sensible foot in the past, but always keep a cautious one moving toward the future. It seems your solution is about accommodating your self-interest (and we are all guilty of this). Frankly, I think this country ought to do something about legal and illegal immigration—and this isn’t a racist statement. We can’t communicate with one another because we don’t speak the same language. Should we all learn twenty languages so we can say the word “dog” twenty different ways?

victor_jm
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April 14, 2014
Mr. Pal

What is the purpose of the education you seek for your children? Which biased history course would you like me to enroll in? And how far back in history ought I to return? Perhaps far enough to read about the oppression of your people, as if no other group has ever experienced this?
Point_of-Order
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April 15, 2014
Very well said victor_jm.

**

I take offense to the statement that I missed Mr Gouvia's point and the insinuation that I am insensitive to the future students' needs, or even 1% racist.

I understand perfectly and I do not not agree with the tactic used or the message behind it.

There are 7 Trustees for a reason; so that the convictions of one don't dictate.

You, Palvarezpalma, as well as every parent and teacher, have other options than Public school. Instead of trying to make the entire district conform to your needs, find the alternative school setting that best meets your ideals.
Palvarezpalma
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April 14, 2014
cont from below...educators, business owners, new residents, longtime residents and former students. We spoke about the needs and the gaps in the student population, the graduation and dropout rates, my own concern as a parent of TUSD children and product of TUSD myself. I was not heard, the only trustee that heard me was a white male by the name of Walter Goveia. Yes Walter is white, Portuguese to be in fact. That man that everyone is accusing of favoring a certain skin color was actually favoring and advocating for the students. He understood his students back when he was an educator/ counselor and now as a trustee. Instead of vilifying him with comments making claims that are uneducated about his character I would suggest you go into your neighboring school.. Look around at the students, the teachers visit the principle and then head over to the district and look at the administration. Oh and while you’re at it go talk to the lunch staff, the crossing guard, yard duty and the janitorial staff. Have a conversation with them and then come to me.. I work with the parents, the students, the admin, probation and mental health professionals. We can tell you that what Walter did was exactly what he was voted into to do. He represented his community by making an important statement. The TUSD Board should have taken a more careful and timely look at the candidates. Community forums would have been nice, a meet and greet would have been outstanding. As a voter I am happy with the protest. As a community worker, advocate and parent I am extremely disappointed and feel that my trip to the school district to meet the criteria of input was completely dismissed.
victor_jm
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April 14, 2014
Mr. Palvarez,

I suppose I vaguely understand what you mean when you say the face of Tracy has changed over the last 20 years. What, precisely, are you advocating? What are the metaphysical needs of the pupils today? I am seeking clarification, because you meandered a lot with your comments, so are you able to cite 10 pupil needs today that didn't, supposedly, exist 20 years ago? Also, I don't want to hear about superficial needs based on arbitrary cultural differences.

One final thought: Sometimes when I think about the remarks liberals (?) make about the changing face of America, there seems to be this implication that once a Caucasian is no longer the majority, he need not apply, as if he would be better off leaving his native community because he no longer represents it. I don't give a crude about what color your skin is, but whatever the approximate truths are in our lives, they don't belong to any one group. Some aspects of a culture are worth celebrating, while others are stupid accidentals that add nothing to the character of an individual.

Palvarezpalma
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April 14, 2014
Victor

I would like to ask you what you think is superficial about the fact that students are not able to communicate with teachers and administration due to language and cultural needs(culture is not always race related) Drop out rates amongst african american and latino students are alarming and have been well into the Franco era. Hiring should be done based off of the needs of a community and not the rush to fill a position. What sir do you consider arbitrary? your saying that my statements are superficial? Please elaborate with data and your mind blowing facts about the perfect state of TUSD because you seem to be convinced that all our children are cut from the same family cloth and can be educated in the same manner... hence our outstanding graduation rates. If you are not concerned for all of our children's success than why are you speaking about education in Tracy.I am not hiding my identity for a reason but its funny how you say "liberal (?)" i do not fit that bill but I will tell you this I sir am way more native then you or who ever you are referring to will ever be Unless you are NATIVE American of course. I suggest you Take a history lesson and research before spewing
Palvarezpalma
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April 14, 2014
It seems very obvious to me that many of the people that commenting are completely missing the true point and protest of this action. Walter is aware that his single vote for or against would have not made a dent in this decision. He obtained to bring to light an issue that the school district has yet to address in their pool or recruitment of applicants. If Tracy were to look into the demographics of its community it would take into consideration the fact that the face of Tracy is not what it was 20 years ago. There has been a major shift in needs and these needs are not looked at critically. I would have no problem with the hiring of a white male if he had the extensive background of working in a district of similar size and needs. To me having the previous Superintendent experience is not a must have. What I would have liked to have seen is a candidate recruited from an area that resembles the projected growth and needs of Tracy in the next 10 years. Delhi is a much smaller community and I’d hate for our vibrant and growing school district to become training ground for anyone. I went to speak to the consultant along with a group of community leaders, parents, grandparents,
Seek_the_Truth
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April 14, 2014
Please understand something about Mr. Gouveia and his inner circle. They DO NOT believe elected officials represent ALL the public (or students) but instead elected officials are only capable of representing members of the public with skin color that matches their own. There is nothing “diverse” about this belief. It is narrow. I for one chose to vote for officials who will represent ALL.

Now, Mr. Gouveia is an official himself and he had the responsibility to vote on the placement of the new superintendent. Please note that Mr. Gouvia chose to abstain from voting. In other words, he was not willing to vote for or against the nominated party, so his action was to take no action. This is what is commonly referred to as “having no backbone,” “weak-sauce,” or “no cajones.” From Mr. Gouveia’s own perspective, his vote didn’t represent anyone. If Mr. Gouveia, by action, represents “no one” perhaps “no one” should vote for him next time he runs for office?

Palvarezpalma
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April 14, 2014
He represented me 100%
Seek_the_Truth
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April 14, 2014
huh?
HD8
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April 14, 2014
I would like to thank the Board for hiring what they felt was the best qualified candidate.

In my opinion it seems Mr. Gouveia would like affirmative action to be the main qualification for the position.
madmarcel
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April 13, 2014
Tracy, CA, USA

12:15 PM, Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dear Editor:

Our school board did its job by interviewing and by hiring the best qualified, professional candidate from a pool of applicants for the job.

My position:

1. If you want changes go out, then register people to vote and elect your people to the board....that's democracy.

2. Thus, to build a majority on our school board, means convincing others who will work to adopt your ideas and who meet the qualifications for office to run for a position on the school board.

Thank you.

Urmomma
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April 12, 2014
Maybe all commentators should take a field trip to the Tracy Unified School District?
victor_jm
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April 12, 2014
Urmomma,

Why ought we to visit the District?
mglnbea
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April 12, 2014
Bravo Walt, bravo!
norcaldad
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April 11, 2014
Diversity? In today's world the white male is the first to get fired and the last to get hired not because of their qualifications but because of the color of their skin. It is assumed that since he is white that he got his position through the old boy network by those who play the race card. Anyways, school administrators are politicians not educators. I care more about the teachers than the choice of another administrator. Stop Common Core now. It is just another failed education reform.
slatz1
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April 11, 2014
It seems to me Mr. Gouveia is sending a message to the new superintendent:

"Dr. Stephens, your new school board is not a rubber stamp. We don’t always agree, and we are not afraid to say so. And at least one of us feels the need to embrace the diversity of cultures that is an important part of our community.”

By the way, I would like to know which board member was absent. I’m sure there is a legitimate reason. But as a voter, I need to know which member besides Mr. Gouveia is not on record in support of the new superintendent.
LeonsFired
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April 11, 2014
The way I read it Walter liked a guy better than Stephens who wasn't white and he's accusing the board of selecting a less qualified,but white, Dr Stephens. A Victor_JM comment seems appropriate to insert here.

I don't care what race the candidate is, I just want the best qualified because our Tracy public schools aren't even close to being competitive. I have to believe the majority who voted were acting in good faith.
victor_jm
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April 12, 2014
Why would it seem appropriate for a Victor-jm comment?
tracyresdnt
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April 11, 2014
Mr Gouveia, what a load... Because clearly some of the more 'diverse' areas around the country are doing so well!
pso17
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April 11, 2014
Thank you sir for bringing up how the board lacks diversity. Some people have a hard time understanding and comprehending the concept of diversity and what it means for a changing environment. Keep up the good fight. Some will say your playing this mysterious card that known as the "race card". Who came up with this ridiculous expression? People who feel bad and want to stifle the truth?
Point_of-Order
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April 11, 2014
pso17-

Mr Gouveia did not say "the board lacks diversity".

As far as I can recall, use of "the race card" developed from the OJ Simpson trial...

What truth is being stifled?
C3TJ
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April 11, 2014
He wasn't bringing up the lack of diversity on the board. He was grandstanding about the superintendent. But you bring up a good point. Mr. Gouveia should resign his position if he doesn't want to do the job we elected him to do. Perhaps his replacement will be a person of color.

pso17
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April 11, 2014
I stand corrected on my error but my goal was to draw out the prejudice that most of us have and can't resist to express when topics or statements like this come up.
fortheunderdog
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April 11, 2014
So Mr Gouveia "abstained in protest" because of the "lack of diversity in district leadership". What the heck is that all about. You hire for a persons ability to do the job regardless of ethnicity. Put on your big boy pants and suck it up.
newsfan01
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April 11, 2014
I think we have over played the race card issue in our world today. Yes we should reach out to everyone so that the best person for the job ends up getting the position. I don't care for people that try to create a problem by taking a stand and drawing attention away from where it should be focused.
Point_of-Order
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April 11, 2014
Way to give the guy a chance Mr Gouveia. Perhaps you didn't spend enough time with HIM instead of with his paperwork? I'm excited that the new Supt isn't a Tracy Crony ready to "do like we've always done". Is that the issue Mr Gouveia?

Are there any other confidential processes you'd like to enlighten us about?

Mr Crandall knows who butters his bread.

And geeze - enough about "Saint" Franco. He insulated himself with people so nothing bad would ever be tied to him. But he's front and center to be seen and heard to celebrate. I heard him say it; "this place runs itself". Sure didn't stop him from collecting his 6 figures way past his prime.
Sero7
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April 11, 2014
Well isn't this something. Mr Gouveia didn't get his type in so he is angry. He is what has happened to this county. Now it's about race, not about who is most qualified. I don't care about the race of the person, I want the person that is most qualified. Sadly, it is about people like Mr Gouveia who are trying to fit a personal agenda of his. " This is the new Tracy, these are the children coming." What in the heck does that mean? Is there children coming to Tracy to take over our town? I am just sorry there is a Trustee on the board like Mr Gouveia who is looking out for his best interest or a certain group of peoples interest rather than the interest of all involved.


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