Judge Refuses to Lift Restraining Order Filed by Superintendent Against School Board Member

An Escondido Union School Board member will not be allowed to attend the next board meeting after the district’s superintendent filed a temporary restraining order against him.

Board Vice President Jose Fragozo went to court Wednesday to request that a judge modify the order and let him attend Thursday night’s meeting.

Superintendent Luis Ibarra filed the temporary restraining order, claiming Fragozo made intimidating statements and bullied him and other district administrators.

Fragozo’s attorney, Kirsten Andelman, told NBC 7 the court action was taken because her client has a difference of opinion from the administration.

“This is very clearly a political vendetta where my client’s rights to publicly participate in the required duties of being a member of the school committee are being threatened,” Andelman told the judge.

She said Fragozo has been advocating for Ibarra’s removal since the summer, and things have deteriorated since then. Still, the issue has never been personal for Fragozo, his attorney said.

Andelman called the alleged threats against Ibarra “fantasy.” But the superintendent’s attorney said there is ample evidence in the filing that Fragozo made credible threats.

“We believe, your honor, that the temporary restraining order should not be lifted for any reason because again, the individuals who requested this court’s protection have a genuine fear for their safety," Ibarra's attorney said.

Brown Act allows for telecommuting to board meetings, the attorney said, so Fragozo would still be able to participate in the discussion via telephone.

The judge agreed and refused to lift the restraining order.

"This is humiliating to my client to be cast as a thug,” said Andelman. “Jose Fragozo is a peaceful person; he has never hit or threatened anyone."

Last week, Ibarra sent an email to district parents, informing them of his decision to file a restraining order against Fragozo. However, he did not detail what led to it. The defendant still must stay at least 100 yards from the superintendent.

The temporary restraining order will remain in effect until the week before Christmas. At that point, a judge will decide whether to make it permanent.

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