Sweetwater Union High School District fired its superintendent in the early hours Tuesday during a crowded meeting at Southwest High School.
The district’s former superintendent Jesus Gandara, Ed.D. has been accused of misusing the district's credit card, criticized for having a bridal shower for his daughter with a money tree and inviting businesses that would benefit from district business, over billing the state lunch program and hiring two public relation firms without the knowledge of the full board.
The district has also been accused of grade fixing.
“We’ve come to a mutual agreement of separation with our superintendent,” John McCann, President Sweetwater Board of Trustees said after the meeting ended around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“It was time to make a change. We agreed with the superintendent it would be a good time and opportunity to change things,” McCann said. “We are looking forward to the future and wish our superintendent well.”
A citizens group says the teachers union is at the heart of the allegations, trying to stir up trouble.
The teachers union denies the accusations. Sweetwater Education Association President Alex Anguiano said teachers took a vote of no confidence two years ago.
All six employee unions within the district took a vote of no confidence May 2009 - a first in district's history.
At the time, the unions had been working for a year without a contract and demanded Gandara's resignation because they believed he didn't want to reach a consensus with workers.
“At this point in time, he simply has lost his credibility and it’s time for this district to move on,” said Anguiano.
“My main concern is that they investigate the school board as well as Dr. Gandara,” said Ignacio Martinez who identified himself as a concerned citizen.
After the meeting, another parent echoed that sentiment warning “We are going to be cleaning house.”
The board also passed a budget early Tuesday that didn’t increase class size and didn’t include teacher layoffs McCann said.