Thu10022014

News

Group contests CUSD superintendent's contract renewal


A group of concerned parents and other residents staged a Feb. 11 press conference in front of Cupertino Union School District offices calling for the board of trustees not to renew Superintendent William E. Bragg's contract for another three years.

The group originally planned to discuss the issue during the "Delegation" agenda slot, usually scheduled late in the board meeting.

At the previous meeting, representatives from the three noncredentialed unions were allowed "delegation" time at the beginning of the 7:30 open session.

Liz Tadman requested a similar courtesy for the dissenting citizens since many of the group could not stay late because of young children. Ben Liao, a 6-year CUSD board member, denied the request.

That refusal spurred the dissenters to escalate their presence. At 7 p.m., school families carried placards and distributed a press release outlining their complaints. There was no interaction with board members, who were in a closed session.

Bragg said he is concerned the recall campaign will "divide our community and divert previous resources to other areas that have no benefit to students.

"This is a very narrow special interest group which doesn't agree with decisions and is couching that in other terms," Bragg said. "The grounds for this recall are the result of actions taken by the Board of Education as a collective body, not by an individual board member."

During the open meeting, Tadman addressed the board and repeated the issues of those opposed to retaining Bragg.

"Our biggest concern is that Dr. Bragg is not willing to share his vision for the future," Tadman said.

Tadman's perception is substantiated by the findings of a communications audit conducted for the district in December. "Even after six years on the job, some still view him as somehow in transition. He needs to clearly signal his vision for the school system to minimize this view," the report said.

Parents are not the only ones raising the issue of cooperative decision-making.

As late as January, Judy Pierce, an English language development teacher and vice president of the Cupertino Education Association, told the Cupertino Courier, "Some teachers have left or are leaving the district because they say the district has failed to ... engage them in the district's decision-making process."

Judy Wong, a concerned parent, emphasized that the group is not claiming that Bragg is a "bad" superintendent but that he is just not appropriate for this community. "His style of management is a mismatch in this district," she said.

Some in the group feel that Bragg prefers to make decisions first and then inform them. They listed some specific issues: Bragg removed lockers from the middle schools before most parents knew it was being considered; he announced cuts in the instructional programs at some of the middle schools which were stopped only when parents protested.

"The current superintendent was brought in from outside the Santa Clara area. He is constantly measured against his predecessors," said the communications audit.

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