The Public Eye

San Juan Unified costs mount as leadership probe continues

The San Juan Unified School District has entered its sixth month of investigating allegations that its superintendent harassed, bullied and created a hostile work environment for some female administrators.

In that time, related district costs have mounted – beyond $185,000.

They have gone up for Superintendent Glynn Thompson’s salary each day he remains on paid administrative leave. They have risen for the investigation, the scope of which continues to expand. And they have climbed for a replacement executive, who has performed some of the work of a superintendent during Thompson’s leave.

A private law firm’s investigative report, once anticipated for October, is now expected to be filed for the board’s closed-door meetings in November.

The episode went public in May after district administrators began filing complaints with the state. District officials say they recognize the process is taking time.

“We are all eager for a thoughtful and appropriate resolution to the concerns that have been raised,” district spokesman Trent Allen said in an emailed statement.

Here’s how the costs break down:

Thompson, on leave since mid-May, continues to receive full pay. As of last week, his salary and car allowance totaled $97,915 for the period of his leave. The cost of his medical, dental, vision and life insurance benefits were just under $3,000. His pension cost the district $8,078 over the last five months.

Thompson, who took over in 2011, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Sacramento firm of Van Dermyden Maddux Law Corp., hired by the school board, began its investigation in early May. A week later, the board authorized up to $35,000 for the work, which was to include examining allegations of gender/race discrimination, harassment and a hostile work environment.

Since then, the board has authorized more funding for the work, which has grown in scope. As of last week, payments to the firm had reached $50,809. The maximum allowable cost to the district has now risen to $125,000. The work is to be concluded in November.

Acting Superintendent General Davie Jr., a former San Juan superintendent, was brought on board in July to lead operations during Thompson’s absence. He receives $850 a day. As of Thursday, he had put in 34.5 days for a total of $29,325, according to the district.

His contract allows for up to 46 days’ compensation.

Critics consider Thompson a bully who has retaliated against administrators who challenged him. Thompson said earlier this year that those who complained didn’t like his management overhaul plan and were not used to hearing tough feedback.

“The board’s interest is to ensure that the process is completed in a fair and comprehensive manner that will allow the entire San Juan community to move forward upon its completion,” Allen said, adding, “I anticipate the board deliberating and taking action on the matter during the month of November.”

The more than $185,000 does not reflect the full price tag of the episode. It does not include costs for in-house lawyers who must respond to the more than a dozen people who have filed documents with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Also excluded are staff-time costs for district employees who have spent untold hours being interviewed as the investigation goes forward.