Teaching & Non-Teaching Employees In Trona Schools Rebuke Superintendent & BoardOrange County Government Corruption Figure Hid Graft Proceeds In Big Bear Estate Investment

Both teachers and non-teaching personnel at one of the more remote school districts in San Bernardino County are revolting against the district’s elected and staff leadership.
This week, the Trona Teachers Association and the Trona Classified Employees Association joined to issue votes of no confidence against the Trona Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees and Superintendent Dr. Jairo Arellano.
Arellano assumed the role of superintendent in July 2000, coming to the district after having been assistant superintendent with the Alisal Union School District near Salinas in Monterey County, where he also oversaw what was termed whole child education. Prior to that he was the executive director, a position under the superintendent, in the Oxnard School District, overseeing English language services. Arellano has a PhD and a Master of Arts degree in philosophy from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
The votes of no confidence extend to more than Arellano, touching on the whole of the school board. This is somewhat awkward, since one of the members of the school board, Cathy Heseman, is a teacher herself, not in Trona, but across the county line, at Ridgecrest Charter School in Ridgecrest in Kern County.
Trona, though located in San Bernardino County, is not too distant from the Kern and Inyo county boundaries. As Ridgecrest is the closest major population center, Trona, a mining town with fewer than 2,000 residents at present, identifies in many ways more with Kern County than San Bernardino County.
Those on both sides of the controversy – Arellano, members of the board, teachers and the non-instructional district employees questioning the management and leadership of the district – were reluctant to speak to outsiders.
The public announcement of the votes of no confidence carried some contradictory elements. While the board was accused of “a lack of transparency” together with “micromanaging and over-involvement,” the teachers also cited an “intrusion of communication between stakeholders.” They complained, as well, of “an atmosphere of nepotism and a hostile work environment” and an “an atmosphere of retaliation and intimidation.”
The Trona Joint Unified School District contains three schools on two campuses and 264 students.
Because of the limited population of the community, familial relationships among district employees is likely unavoidable.
Arellano, limited in his ability to respond, and reluctant to do so in any case, publicly said the teachers’ beef boiled down to a dispute with one of the district’s two principals.
Neither the teacher’s association nor Arellano nor Heseman responded to the Sentinel’s inquires by press time.

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