Superintendent files complaint against school trustee

By Maureen Robertson

Ramona Unified School District’s superintendent has filed a complaint against one of the district’s five school trustees, contending he has been subjected to a severe and pervasive hostile work environment.

Superintendent Robert Graeff refused to comment on the complaint, saying any complaint filed by a district employee is confidential. He declined to acknowledge there even is a complaint.

Trustee John Rajcic, however, in a commentary in this week’s Sentinel, states that the district’s educational leader filed a complaint against him. He received a copy of the complaint at his home last week.

According to a copy of the complaint, which apparently is in the investigation stage, staff members have received disparaging emails concerning Graeff from Rajcic.

“My subordinates have shared with me their discomfort upon receiving these messages,” reads the pending complaint. “I am submitting this Uniform Complaint on my own behalf and, as I believe is my obligation, on behalf of those staff members who have expressed their concern and discomfort which I suggest is creating a hostile work environment for them, as well.”

As superintendent, he continues, “it is my obligation and legal duty to ensure that all employees work in an environment that is free of harassment and that they are treated in a manner consistent with board policy.”

The complaint contends “there are contractual obligations regarding the evaluative process” that Rajcic has violated, and it refers to a commentary in the Sentinel “suggesting criminal conduct with inaccurate and false information” as disturbing.

The complaint lists specific school board policies that have been violated or misapplied, and it seeks remedies such as “that my employees no longer experience the anxiety associated with being placed between the superintendent and a board member.”

Rajcic, elected to the board in November, provided the Sentinel with a written response to the pending complaint. In it, he acknowledges he may have transgressed and, if he did, he seeks forgiveness. He concludes with his belief that criticism is a sign a health in a democratic society.

“It appears as though I was cited for violation of the 21 rules of Board Protocol,” he said in the written response. “It may be true that I in part violated one, two or all the rules in the exercise of my oversight responsibilities. I do not know any specifics about the charges.

“I ask people to read the rules. They are childish. The first rule reads like a statement I heard a kindergarten teacher say at open house. Rule four reads, I believe, like an attempt of the superintendent to control information. I will write more about protocol in the near future.

“I forgive those who may have trespassed against me and pray they will forgive me, if I trespassed against them.

“I as a board member and (the) superintendent are public figures. We may be subjected to severe criticism and allegations. It goes with the territory. Criticism is a sign of health in a democratic society. This I believe.”

The public can read the board policies by going to the district’s website — ramonausd.net — going to the School Board link at the top, selecting “Board Policies” on the left, and linking to “GAMUT online.”

Specific policies mentioned in the complaint are: Evaluation of the Superintendent, BP 2140; Role of the Board, BB (Board Bylaw) 9000, Governance Standards, BB 9005; Board Protocol; and Discrimination in the work place.

At board meetings and in written opinions, Rajcic has questioned the structure of the district’s contract with the superintendent and stated that he believes district managers should be judged on their performance and contribution to the district and their salaries should not be tied to other employee salary schedules.

Related posts:

  1. Letter to the Editor: A look at superintendent’s contract
  2. School district needs community support
  3. Some views as a school trustee
  4. Trustees hire Don Haught as Warner interim superintendent
  5. A high school campus is where this retired superintendent wants to be

Short URL: http://www.ramonasentinel.com/?p=27353

Posted by Maureen Robertson on Sep 19 2013. Filed under News, Ramona, Schools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

4 Comments for “Superintendent files complaint against school trustee”

  1. Sharon Cox

    An individual school board member who believes s/hehas an oversight responsibility separate from that of the board as a whole is simply wrong. Too often a person who does not understand the role of the board, or of an individual member, declines to work with his or her colleagues. Instead, they embrace the bully pulpit to sway the public to his/her view and assume a false authority over staff. Unfortunately, that self-serving action only serves to undermine the oversight authority of the board as a whole and the management responsibility of the superintendent, creating chaos and dysfunction. Adult power struggles over who’s in charge betray the interests of students and the district.

  2. Jane Tanaka MD

    The chaos and dysfunction cannot be blamed on Dr Rajcic alone.
    To quote RUSD Board Policy:"The Governing Board recognizes the rights of Board members to freely express their views and encourages open discussion of issues during the Board meeting. The Board believes that effective Board members have a responsibility to express themselves, whether in agreement or disagreement with the Board majority, in ways that promote the Board's ability to govern the district.When speaking to community groups, the media, or other members of the public, individual Board members should recognize that their statements may be perceived as reflecting the views and positions of the Board. Board members have a responsibility to identify personal viewpoints as such and not as the viewpoint of the Board.All public statements authorized to be made on behalf of the Board shall be made by the Board president or, if appropriate, by the Superintendent or other designated representative."

  3. Jane Tanaka MD

    To my knowledge Dr Rajcic has made his views known as his own, and not that of the majority of the board., and the public is well aware of this also.Not knowing the content of communication between Dr Rajcic and the Superintendent , but understanding that the Superintendent has staff members who first read his emails/letters etc, I would think he could shield his staff from discomfort by reading Dr Rajcic's communications personally without involving his staff. As for his own discomfort, that comes with the job unfortunately. If the Superintendent truly feels that he and his staff have been traumatized by Dr Rajcic, then I can understand his need to make a formal complaint. If instead this is an excuse to silence an overly idealistic dissenting soldier , then it may fuel public distrust and disengagement . The Superintendent not acknowledging the complaint to the media is consistent with the former scenario, or perhaps the desire to make it appear as such.

  4. Jane Tanaka MD

    addendum… The Superintendent really did not want knowledge about this complant in the media. That is more consistent with wanting to protect his employees from harassment. There are still other ways of handling this.. boss, not admin assistant , takes calls and emails/letters directly.

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