Home » Antioch School District Takes First Step Towards “Culture” Investigation

Antioch School District Takes First Step Towards “Culture” Investigation

by CC News
Antioch School District

On Wednesday, more virtue signaling by the Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees who took its first step towards a district wide “culture” investigation.

In a 3-1 vote, with Trustee Gary Hack dissenting, the item will return with a list of firms who the board could hire to investigate “culture” and ” practices and processes” within the Antioch School District.

The move comes as no evidence has been provided that there is an issue within the District or its processes, even after media reported employees complaints were made public–aka “bully boss“. To date, out of 2,000+ employees, the public was made aware of 4 total complaints in which 2 of those were already investigated by a third-party who determine the district followed proper protocol and procedures.

The Board, nor the public has even received a staff report on what the complaint process is or any data on number complaints by employees, parents or the public. Our what the discipline process might be.

During the discussion, Board Trustees Antonio Hernandez and Dr. Jag Lathan both admitted school employees were not even following proper process when filing complaints. At the same time, neither Hernandez or Lathan provided any evidence that employees went to them or determined if the employee even followed complaint processes prior to speaking to the board–or, confirming if HR was even aware of the complaints. It is also unclear if Hernandez or Lathan even know what the AUSD complaint process is themselves before making this request or statements as they continue to break their own board policies. Its also unclear how this report and board direction would impact unions and their negotiated contracts.

Recap – Board Discussion

Trustee Antonio Hernandez brought the item forward.

  • Board Directed School District Investigation – A discussion on launching a board investigation on the policies, practices, and culture of the  Antioch Unified School District that impact our employees and students.

“I think on a district wide level, there’s been a number of employees that have come to me or shared their story about concerns with district culture surrounding things like bullying and retaliation and don’t feel like they have an avenue to share their concerns in confidence. So I think an investigation in our district practices so that we can start to address those things and see where those gaps may be and where we should put our focus on to improve the culture for our employees and ultimately for our students,” explained Hernandez. “I think this would be a good step for us to begin rebuilding trust with the community.”

Trustee Dr. Clyde Lewis asked for clarification if they would be doing the investigation as a board or someone else.

Hernandez said they would lead the selection of a third-party.

Trustee Mary Rocha asked how this was going to work and if employees would be tied to the personnel commission.

Hernandez explained they would hire a third-party to do this investigation and they would create processes and structures where employees could come to their office and share their stories and experiences. While looking into other metrics and data or things to help identify where in our school culture they could make some improvements.

Trustee Gary Hack questioned if this would already duplicate what is in place.

Hernandez said he believed it would not because this would be district wide versus any particular incident and looking at culture.

Dr. Martinez said the District does have processes which they seek to engage with employees and members of the public, as well as students and parents with ways to accept concerns and complaints—with its with any employee or personnel.

“If there are complaints or concerns, we do follow Board Policy for investigating those concerns. Our Personnel Commission does stand to support us in the examination of potential employees in the guidance of their employment, determining a rank process of who can be selected or hired, there are procedures that are aligned for discipline that come from the personnel commission that are regulations that align with our collective bargaining agreements because there is due process,” explained Martinez who noted there are Ed Code. “In this situation, if you are having someone else, other than your current district or administrative team looking to accept or understand those complaints so we can apply board policy, I am not sure how that would help us move forward administratively.”

Martinez further shared an outside agency wouldn’t work in accordance with Board Policy and may not follow due process and may give the board information where you might begin performing administrative work.

“I think there is some peril in there in the sense of how you would formulate this,” said Martinez. “It is important to listen to people, but given all the regulations that we seek to follow that guide the practices that we do, I don’t see how that helps us move forward.”

Hernandez clarified this was not a disciplinary investigation, but rather an information gathering investigation. But suggested although the District has processes in place, employees are not going through those processes they would not find out what is going on or preventing them from going through the processes in place or preventing them from reporting things that should not be going on.

Dr. Jag Lathan said, “this could be a good opportunity for us to look at why, if we already have a process and folks are choosing not to go through it for whatever reason. Or, if they are going through the process and feel like they are still not getting heard or something done, it will be good opportunity for us to know what that information is.”

She said it was hard for people to see how a process is working because when people are in a system, its hard to see what is working or no working because people were in it.

Rocha asked about the next step were saying she was okay to bring it back to have further discussion and see what it would look like to better understand that but was not ready to move forward and select anybody.

Hernandez said if they wanted to get rid of semantics and remove the word “investigation” he was happy to do so noting this was a review of the entire system, getting feedback and new ideas to fill in gaps and improve trust with the community.

“This is something coming from outside of a system that they already district,” stated Hernandez.  “There is distrust within our HR system, I know that is hard to hear. But that is why we need to address it.”

Lathan shared she was all for it noting no one has a single answer of what to do for a complaint. If they are a teacher, do they go to the principal or through the CSEA President or straight to HR?

“No one has one way,” said Lathan. “Some folks say I go to the principal, I go to the union, I go to HR. That is not a clear process. I would like to have that process examined…. This is not a gotcha, but how do we strengthen what we have?”

Hernandez asked if there was consensus to move forward.

Trustee Gary Hack stated he didn’t know what the censuses was going forward on.

Hernandez explained for the Board to bring back firms for them to discuss doing this.

“If that be the definition than I would be opposed to the board hiring outside firms to do district business,” explained Hack. “We do not have the expertise who we should hire, what we should pay for them and we don’t know what the goals are at this point.”

Hernandez then called for a formal vote to the board to bring back firms to launch a review of practices and culture regarding employees and processes.

Approved in a 3-1 vote with Hack dissenting.

Rocha said she wanted to hear what was going to show up when they bring this back.

Note – Dr. Clyde Lewis was in attendance when the item began, had to leave the meeting due to a family emergency.

Next Steps: The item will return and the Board will better define its goal with this request. Followed by an RPF and determine and estimated cost.

Martinez Appointed Acting Superintendent

On Wednesday, the Antioch Unified School District announced Dr. Robert Martinez will serve as acting Superintendent.

The announcement of Dr. Martinez came after the closed session in a 3-2 vote.

“First off, let me just say thank you to the board for the trust you have placed in me to serve as acting superintendent during Superintendent Anello’s absence. I will hold that responsibility with great care, compassion and commitment for all of our students, staff, families and community.”

Superintendent Stephanie Anello has been out on medical leave since April 24, 2024.


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