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
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
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.