MUSD Installs Baumgarten As Interim Superintendent

(August 12) JOSHUA TREE— The Morongo Unified School District Board of Education has chosen assistant superintendent Tom Baumgarten to serve in the capacity of interim replacement of Dr. Cecelia English who was forced out as superintendent in June.
No explanation for English’s departure has been provided.
English, who possesses a doctorate in education and had been the director of academics at the Newark School District in Northern California, was hired on a 3-2 vote of the board of trustees in June 2013, replacing Jim Majchrzak, with trustees Karalee Hargrove and Ronald Palmer in opposition.
English ran into opposition earlier this year during strained contract negotiations with the Morongo Teachers Association. A month after the board in May balked at giving English a 5.77 percent raise over her $175,000 annual salary, while conferring the same 5.77 percent raise on the district’s three assistant superintendents, Doug Weller, Tom Baumgarten and David Price, the school board on June 21 abruptly placed superintendent Cecelia English on paid administrative leave.
The grounds for the action against English was not stated. On June 27 at a specially scheduled meeting of the board, English resigned.
This week the board chose Baumgarten as her replacement for what is anticipated to be a one year period.
Formerly the assistant superintendent of student services,  Baumgarten was give a one year contract with an annual salary of $165,000. The contract terminates on June 30, 2015 at which point the district hopes to have found a permanent replacement for English and Baumgarten will return to his assistant superintendent post.
The board voted to extend  Doug Weller’s contract as assistant superintendent of human resources through June 2016. The board also voted to replace David Price, who has now departed as assistant superintendent of business services, with Sharon Flores. Flores was the senior director of fiscal services with the Rialto Unified School District, in which capacity she oversaw Judith Oakes, the district’s school lunch program accountant who is now known to have embezzled at least $1.8 million of the district’s money between 2005 and 2013 and may have embezzled a total of as much as $3.1 million going back to 1999. Flores resigned from her position with Rialto Unified.
All three votes taken by the board with regard to Baumgarten, Weller and Flores were unanimous.
Neither Baumgarten nor the board offered an explanation of English’s departure beyond reference to a joint statement attributed to the board and English that was released in June in which it was asserted English “voluntarily requested to resign… to pursue other opportunities.”

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