Monday, March 17, 2008

Hometown Politics

As I currently have no desire for future employment in the pseudo-theocratic bureaucracy that's allegedly running (excuse me, I meant to write allegedly ruining) my former high school and former place of employment, and even if I did want their employment, I still am obligated to help shine a light on what's happening at this small, private K-12 school named San Gabriel Academy. Two years ago, the (let's say) "district" superintendent allegedly tried to manipulate the school's budget and school board in order to oust several trusted faculty members, including my friend, my former teacher, my former employer, and current principal Robert Peeke. On that note, I wholeheartedly support this good man and committed educator.

Fast-forward two years later (the present), the same superintendent, with assistance from the school board's chairperson, is again allegedly trying to get rid of Principal Peeke and several staff members, in order to implement what seems to be an experimental computer program for the school. If this is true, then treating children and teenagers like educational guinea pigs is profoundly unethical.

An anonymous supporter of Principal Peeke and the school has set up a MySpace profile to galvanize the true supporters of San Gabriel Academy. The lack of paragraph separations may make reading the information a bit trying, so here's the gist of the allegations (as I much as I understand about the situation):

Concerning the main characters of this drama:

  • The current superintendent allegedly has a clean-house mentality and an ax to grind when it comes to Principal Peeke and San Gabriel Academy;
  • The current board chairperson allegedly also works for the "district" that controls San Gabriel Academy, making this a conflict of interest.
  • The superintendent and chairperson allegedly stated that students parents do not run the school but the board does. While this is technically true, this is also a gross abuse of power, as board members are normally accountable to their constituents, i.e., parents, students, and the community, and failure to do so is normally sufficient grounds for an overhaul of the governing board.
  • This allegedly has something to do with educational computers over real teachers, making sure those supporting the outsiders' agenda stay and not honoring employment contracts for those who do not support the outsiders' agenda.
  • The superintendent has allegedly accused high school Principal Peeke of nepotism because he hired his son Julian Peeke to teach history classes at the school. However, this same superintendent placed a hand-picked elementary school principal recently. Additionally, the superintendent unilaterally hired the new elementary principal's wife for a full-time staff position at the school, allegedly taking about $30,000 from one "district" budget over to the elementary school's budget.
  • The superintendent allegedly attempted to dictate the time and manner for Julian Peeke's wedding and honeymoon, as to conform to a teacher's convention in Nashville.
  • The superintendent and San Gabriel Academy's former business manager allegedly were the ones to declare a state of exigency in 2006, hoping to cut staff. This turned out to be a mistake, and neither the superintendent nor former business manager (who now works for the "district") have apologized for the mistake.
  • The superintendent has allegedly repeatedly dismissed Principal Peeke from meetings, in order to discuss about him without room for rebuttal from Peeke.
  • A majority of students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni and other stakeholders have consistently supported Robert Peeke for the past 18 years as teacher, registrar, de facto guidance counselor, and more recently principal. That's a fact.
  • One-third of constituents allegedly voted against the superintendent's reelection, but this has not been noted in any statement of the superintendent's job performance.
  • The superintendent is allegedly disregarding the three-year contract signed by Peeke in 2007. I don't know where you're from, but in the State of California, contracts are legally binding.
  • At a recent teacher convention, the superintendent allegedly berated San Gabriel Academy as a school, its teachers, principal, and the program as a whole. He is an outsider, whose policies and agenda will always be critiqued, as long as it affects San Gabriel Academy.
  • The superintendent has allegedly disrupted the high school's successful program of having a junior high under the high school by reverting those grades back under the elementary. Keep in mind that the superintendent has hand-picked loyalties in the elementary.
  • The superintendent has allegedly shifted the academic calendar and the site of graduation from a comfortable auditorium to the school's field. This outsider does not care about San Gabriel Academy!
  • The superintendent and the board allegedly want to cut San Gabriel Academy's staff to somehow decrease the budget and increase enrollment, yet the implementation of the aforementioned computer program will undoubtedly drive up tuition and decrease enrollment. The outsider and alleged puppet board do not care about San Gabriel Academy!
Concerning the "district," which is organized by a religious institution and called a "conference" by their own jargon:
  • The constituent churches accountable to San Gabriel Academy allegedly owe the school $140,000 in needed finances. It is inappropriate that the pastors of the various financially delinquent churches sit on the school board and freely vote on issues pertaining to San Gabriel Academy.
  • The conference allegedly spends more money to make sure other schools, such as Los Angeles Academy, get all the financial backing needed. This inequitable treatment of San Gabriel Academy is utterly disgusting.
  • The supporters of San Gabriel Academy would rather have a change in superintendent and school board (for the above allegations and then some) than a staff change at the school, especially when it comes to Robert Peeke!
The bottom line is for the current students, the families of the students, current staff/faculty, and others employed by this increasingly (if the allegations are true) corrupt, hypocritical, pseudo-theocratic bureaucracy to be courageous and stand up for what is good. It doesn't take courage for me to say these things and stand up for San Gabriel Academy, but it will take a lot of courage for the people allegedly under threat of reprisal to do so.

Yes, I've followed the more-or-less safe route of making allegations throughout this entry.

Stephen Colbert's Peeke Bump photo taken from Robert Peeke's MySpace Profile.

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