Archive » March 6, 2008
CLEVENGER SAGA FAR FROM OVER
By India Allen, Staff Writer
Clevenger saga far from over
The fight to reinstate Norm Clevenger as Santa Ynez Valley Union High School’s principal is far from over, as the school board and community members gear up for yet another board meeting March 11.
The Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District School Board was prompted to place an item regarding Clevenger’s dismissal on the March 11 board meeting agenda after it received various letters and e-mails from concerned parents, community members and the Faculty Association at the high school.
Clevenger was placed on paid administrative leave and dismissed from his post as the high school’s principal by the district’s superintendent, Dr. Fred Van Leuven, Feb. 14. He served as a counselor and administrator at the high school for the past nine years and has more than 30 years experience in the education field. His dismissal has caused public outcry among parents, teachers and valley residents.
Board member Sharon Steele said the agenda item was a direct result of receiving community requests, in particular a request made by Bruce J. Porter, a parent of a high school student.
In a letter dated Feb. 27 and addressed to Joe Dugan and Van Leuven, Porter invoked a section of the California Education Code, which allows members of the public to place matters directly related to school district business on the agenda of school districts’ governing board meetings. Porter’s agenda item, “Immediate return of Norm Clevenger from administrative leave and reinstatement to full duties as Principal,” will be discussed in a public meeting in which Clevenger, community members and teachers will have the opportunity to address the board.
Porter said he sent the letter because he felt the board neglected to address the issue of reinstating Clevenger at the Feb. 19 board meeting.
“After hearing all of the impassioned pleas from community members, it was clear that there was a great amount of support for Clevenger to be principal,” Porter said. “…I thought the fair thing to do for the kids, the school and Clevenger, was to place the item on the board’s agenda.”
A number of e-mails have been circulating since the board declined to extend Clevenger’s contract in a 5-0 vote on Feb. 19.
In an e-mail correspondence, the Faculty Association called the vote “a slap in the face of the public and faculty will,” and charged that the board “ignored” the community’s voice.
It also urged the public to write letters to the media expressing their concern and dismay about the board’s decision.
Some board members refute the claims that they have “ignored” community input.
“We heard them,” said Jack Mochnick, a school board member. “I definitely disagree with that claim. We’re here for the community.”
Clevenger said he hopes the board will listen to the public outcry and acknowledge that his dismissal is not in the best interest of the students, teachers or parents at SYVUHS.
“…It’s a request to have a fair shake…,” he said. “Administrators have very little rights, if any… and if the superintendent or the board says ‘we don’t think we want you running the school right now,’ they could [dismiss you]. But just because they can doesn’t mean they should.”
The superintendent and the board are supposed to represent the interests of parents, teachers and students, Clevenger added.
The meeting will be held at 4 p.m. on March 11, in the Old Gym at SYVUHS, 2975 East Highway 246, Santa Ynez. The agenda item is not yet up on the school board’s Web site, but a copy of the March 11 board meeting agenda can be requested by calling 688-6487.