A critic of the controversy surrounding a Coronado High School staff member was told he couldn't speak on the matter at the May 31 School Board meeting because it wasn't on the agenda. File photo.

A parent and lawyer told the Coronado School Board on May 31 that a high school employee placed on administrative leave after students were sent “inappropriate material” on their smartphones should be fired.

Bill Pate, during the public comment period, told the board that based on the allegations, the staff member’s permanent dismissal was not a question but rather a matter of law.

He cited a similar  court decision involving the San Diego Unified School District to support his statement.

Pate, however, was interrupted by board members who said the comment was not related to an agenda item, was based on allegations and would not be permitted at “special school board meetings” like the one May 31.

The meeting also included evaluations of Superintendent Karl Mueller, which was not released to the public, and the board.

Police investigation May 25

The Coronado Police Department launched an investigation May 25 into a situation involving a Coronado High School employee who has not been identified and was placed on paid administrative leave. Coronado Police has not provided any additional details.

Nine students and two parents previously told The Coronado News that many students on May 24 were sent screenshots of a shirtless male who resembled an administrator at the school. Students were later sent a video of the same faculty member.

Karl Mueller said at the May 31 special board meeting that a parent could not comment on the controversy at Coronado High School because the issue was not on the agenda. Staff file photo by Willem Quigley.

Mueller told those in attendance that “during special board meetings, all public comments need to be relevant to the agenda.”

Pate, meanwhile, told the Coronado News that he believes faculty should be held to a moral standard. He considers that this situation places focus on the district and its hiring and retention practices.

Neither the school district nor police have provided additional information other than the employee remains on paid leave.

Mueller evaluated

The job evaluation of Mueller, which is common for school superintendents, proceeded to be discussed in a closed session.

According to district Public Information Officer Maria Simon, the evaluation process has not been finalized. 

After the board deliberated for a little over 60 minutes, Board President Renee Cavanaugh reported in open session that no action was taken regarding Mueller’s evaluation and encouraged those who wish to speak on non-agendized items to return for the next regular board meeting, where comments on other matters may be shared, on June 8.

Board evaluates itself

Along with evaluating the superintendent, the board  engaged in a self-evaluation workshop.

Cavanaugh used California School Boards Association (CSBA) training for a series of 50 questions. 

Coronado Unified File photo of School District Board President Renee Cavanaugh (Portrait provided by Renee Cavanaugh).

Cavanaugh said the first 25 questions addressed the board’s effective governance and the second part related to board responsibilities in accordance to five major responsibilities: Setting direction; Establishing an effective and efficient structure; Providing support; Ensuring accountability; Providing community leadership as advocates for children, the school district and public schools.

One topic of conversation was the time for discussion and agendized items during school board meetings.

“As long as it takes”

The board agreed that plenty of time should be taken for effective discussions, and Trustee Scot Youngblood voiced his support for board meetings to take “as long as it takes.”

However, the board also agreed that consistency is key and agendas require time management.

They decided to implement realistic anticipated times for agenda items and to revisit when closed session discussions will happen during meetings.

Regarding professional development opportunities, board members discussed time management and the district paying for these expenses as factors that hinder participation. 

In terms of channels of communication with the community and community leaders, the board made mention of office hours posted to the district website, the board president’s role as a spokesperson for the board, and encouraged discussion between the community and the board as a whole.

Success of all students

The board also discussed reviewing and canceling unused board policies, considering the cost for storage. The district will wait on the Small School Districts’ Association about the process of bringing down the amount of board policies.

One concern among the board was the efforts to advocate on behalf of public education and actively promote the belief in the success of all students and staff in the district.

A board member wrote “about the failure to implement a cohesive strategy to offer a safe and supportive environment for ALL students after the eradication of NPFH and the tortilla incident as was promised.”

No Place for Hate is a self-directed program combating bias and bullying in over 1,600 schools across the country, according to its website.

Trustee  Malachy Sandie mentioned the training for all the sports teams reduces incidents of similar behavior from the “Tortilla-gate” incident and points to a supportive environment.

Trustee Alexia Palacios Peters questioned what is being done to promote support among students and teachers.

However, Youngblood said that based on site visits to campuses, he believes each of the school sites speak to honoring and cherishing all students.

More News

Julieta is a reporter for The Coronado News, covering education, small business and investigating the Tijuana/Coronado sewage issue. She graduated from UC Berkeley where she studied English, Spanish, and Journalism. Apart from reporting, Julieta enjoys reading, traveling, and spending quality time with family and friends.