Vote of No Confidence for Superintendent of NVUSD, Dr. Patrick Sweeney
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Vote of No Confidence
Dr. Patrick Sweeney, NVUSD Superintendent (March 27, 2017)
We are requesting the NVUSD Education Board of Directors to call for a Vote of No Confidence on NVUSD Superintendent, Patrick Sweeney. We the community of Napa have lost our trust in Dr. Sweeney. We have no confidence he is leading our school district with a moral compass, ethical leadership and in the best interest of our children who are students in the schools he administers.
Formal complaints have been filed with the NVUSD Compliance Officer, Alejandro Hogan, with a copy to the Department of Education, Superintendent’s Office of Tom Torlakson, requesting an investigation of Dr. Sweeney’s conduct. It is our belief that he and his administrative team are not being student- centric, nor leading with the proactive mindset to ensure nothing harmful happens to any student on any campus. He is not being transparent, nor demonstrating any actions that can impact student safety culture in a positive way and he is not taking responsibility for his mistakes that have now impacted many students. We don’t want Dr. Sweeney’s negligence and poor performance to be allowed to continue and affect any more children. The lists below are the violations that have been identified and submitted to the district’s Compliance Officer to investigate.
The NVUSD School Board has been informed, by several Napa community members, of the following information they believe to be mistakes / violations and this document is a formal request to investigate. Our goal is to ensure if these types of behaviors are occurring within NVUSD they will stop and accountability occurs.
Negative Financial Impact to NVUSD:
Under Dr. Sweeney’s leadership several situations have occurred that will have a negative financial impact to NVUSD, thus all students:
o $12.8 million deficit – Deficit impact to students and teachers:
Many teachers opted out to take an early retirement package the district
offered to reduce the deficit. The impact to students is:
District is not intending to fill all of these vacant positions. This
will limit or cease access to some classes and this action will
increase class size going from 32 to 36
Increased class size impacts the students because the school’s
infrastructure (physical class size or Wi-Fi) cannot/does not support the amount of current class size
Safety concerns in science classes as teachers will attempt to have students safely participate in lab exercises / hands-on activities, which are necessary but room size will create a risk
There will be no Librarians next year, which heavily impacts students but it also impacts teachers trying to support students
Schools will lose their 5th counselor...this means that Career Centers at the high school levels will close, leaving students who are looking for a job to find new ways of doing so, help with college admissions processes will rest solely on primary counselor, help with accessing information and locating funding to further student education (community college, university, vocational schools, etc.).
The AVID coordinator position will no longer be funded. This program does so many wonderful and necessary things for students, exposure to college and universities, how to write admissions letters, creating a resume, academic strategies, etc.
Other positions at the district level are being eliminated that directly support teachers as new standards are adopted and new testing is implemented, which directly support and impact student learning. For example, science will be formally implementing new standards titled Next Generation Science standards. NVUSD science has a designated person who has been helping with this huge implementation process, providing training, resources, and planning time to prepare for this. Textbooks are 10+ years old and new standards require adoption of new textbooks...this will not happen for at least 3 years putting NVUSD student that much farther behind on accessing the curriculum as intended.
o Rumored of unaccounted funds ranging between $2 million and $14.2
o Over 4 months of time have been spent on private investigation fees, district
employees’ efforts, district’s attorney / law firm in the effort to expel boys from the Napa High School football teams. Their expulsions will likely go to the Napa County Office of Education for appeals. Upon their decision and the over-ruling on the NVUSD Board of Education it will confirm that money has been wasted in an effort to excessively punish students for an act that should have had a consequence of a minimal suspension.
o Due to his inability to demonstrate restorative practices through the current hazing investigations (2015 and 2016) and his team’s inability to follow Education Code, NVUSD Board Policy, Code of Ethics civil suits are being filed against Dr. Sweeney / NVUSD and potentially the individuals on the NVUSD school board. Again, tax payer’s money will be needed to pay for Dr. Sweeney’s defense and insurance costs.
Dr. Sweeny has been alerted by parents and the Napa community to be transparent, to communicate and to implement his NVUSD’s restorative practices through education and partnership. He has declined to do so. This direction also puts his direct reports, expulsion panel and students / families in unsafe conditions to speak up.
o He directed Principal Annie Petrie to:
Not to be involved in the investigation process this was hers to own.
Direct her staff - not to engage in conversations with parents, students or
anyone about the hazing situation nor provide education about policy,
Not re-hire the entire football coaching staff although she has said
publically in a staff meeting (March 21, 2017) that she is happy to re-hire
all of them.
o He has asked through community members to tell parents to back off on
speaking publically about his decision to not re-hire two coaches and the
o The NVUSD district’s attorney stated more than once during an expulsion
hearing in March that the Expulsion Administrative panel will expel all students. Dr. Sweeney is aware that his team did not follow due process and that the suspension charges did not fit the evidence from the investigation team. Nevertheless, he has continued to move forward with the expulsion hearings. The administrative panel works for him so it is unlikely they will rule against a recommended expulsion as their job might be at risk.
o The two coaches that were not given the opportunity to interview for football are NVUSD employees who have not demonstrated any cause that they could not serve as coaches. Dr. Sweeney’s decision is not objective or supportive of the Napa High principal and puts undo stress on his employees. He has inflicted defamation of their character.
o Families from Stonebridge stated in a NV Register article (September 28, 2016) that they objected to NVUSD scare tactics being used against them.
Leadership Misconduct (in Question):
o Violation of CPSEL: California Professional Standards for Educational Leaders
o Violation of NVUSD Board Policy: 4219.21 (Ethical Standards – Code of Conduct)
Recommendations and direction were given to Principal Annie Petrie to
suspend 9 students (with potential expulsion). During the open expulsion hearing on March 7th, Principal Petrie stated she implemented the suspensions as directed, without validating the data and reading statements made by students.
Dr. Sweeney has been contacted by several parents concerning the lack of integrity and ethical leadership during the investigation. Stating examples from the hearing, they requested he stop the expulsion process and validate the statements as they are in conflict and what the district’s investigator stated occurred does not qualify for a mandated expulsion as Dr. Sweeney indicated in a press conference on ABC news. The investigator stated that the 2016 incident occurred in the locker room with boys grabbing each other to “goose” through three layers of clothing (compression shorts, pads and practice pants). Another witness stated the boys were laughing, having fun, chasing one another with no intent to harm anyone. They thought they were just horsing around. Why did the district charge the boys with sexual assault in the suspension-expulsion paperwork with no indication any occurred in 2016? It was also stated by witnesses there was no intent to harm, nor was there any serious harm done to any of the boys. Parents agree a consequence should occur if some was uncomfortable; however expulsion is an excessive punishment.
o Violation of Providing Accommodations of a Student on an IEP:
His team interviewed a student who is on an IEP without parent’s
consent or following the accommodations. In doing so they collected information from the student in written format and then re-wrote the statement to “clean it up” which was presented in the Open Expulsion hearing of Johnny Torres. The student has a cognitive learning disability that impairs his ability to understand the meanings of words. (Captured in recorded testimony from 3/14/2017 hearing).
o Violation of NVUSD Board Policy: 4319.23 (Personnel Unauthorized release of Confidential / Privileged Information) Napa Valley SD |
Student’s names in investigative statements were not redacted and minor’s identity was released.
This information was shown on Channel 7 / ABC news
NVUSD attorney stated students’ names, initials, as well as other
information in the statements that identified the student throughout the 4
first day of the open expulsion hearing for Johnny Torres exposing witnesses, potential victims and those accused of the alleged hazing.
NVUSD Superintendent’s Direct Reports in Question:
o The NVUSD Director of Technology, Gary Heard, was placed on paid
administrative leave upon the commencement of an internal investigation which was prompted by receiving pressure from the California Schools Employees Association (CSEA) union representing non-teaching staff who had filed numerous complaints including possible misuse of funds. (October 16, 2016 – NV Register article)
o Secondary Education/ Mark Morrison
Supervision Policy in Locker Rooms has not been implemented at school
sites and no-oversite is occurring.
In 2012 it was recommended that all school sites have a minimum
of 2 staff members in locker rooms at all times when students are present. This has not been implemented at any of the school sites in NVUSD. In fact, schools have a casual direction for a staff member to be in the locker room, but no formal agreement.
Examples: Currently observed November 2016 – current 2017 at all high schools:
After basketball games coaches go into locker room to give comments then come back out to the gym leaving students to change. Students are not being supervised.
Students after swim practice or swim meets go into locker room to change and there is not consistent locker room supervision of 1 or more coaches the entire time the students are in there. Students are not being supervised.
Softball and baseball team members go into the locker room to change prior to games during class time and their coaches are not in the locker room to supervise. PE teachers are teaching their classes, coaches are teaching their classes, thus no supervision is assigned, nor happening in preparation for games. Students are not being supervised.
The locker rooms are not always opened by coaches, sometimes it is other staff members on campus. There has been no remediation or
training or communication to review the district supervision policy with all staff members to ensure understanding and communicate the gaps that occurred in November 2016. Why not?
Who is monitoring the supervision of any location within a school where students gather like the band room, choir room, spirit leader’s room, locker rooms that might not have supervision? Why is this procedure not known? Why is supervision still not occurring? Where is the oversight and communication of the supervision expectations to staff/faculty? This is a district-wide issue that Secondary Education has ignored.
Staff Conduct Issues under Secondary Education Executive Director, Mark Morrison: Concern that multiple misconduct issues are occurring at Secondary Education sites unbeknownst to the site administrator. A trend is being observed which calls to questions what is the Executive Director of Secondary Education doing to ensure Code of Conduct and Expectations of staff members is understood. What has been communicated in person, during meetings to Site Administrators, faculty and staff with regard to:
Expectations of Site Administrators to observe direct reports and provide coaching and performance management
Review of all procedures as it relates to supervision of students
Review of all procedures as it relates to hazing
Review of all procedures as it relates to employee conduct
Updated Safety Plans incorporating hazing
Training Provided to faculty and staff
Communication provided to students and families with regard to the
School Sites Safety Plan, Hazing information, Expectations of
Staff/Faculty/Administration Code of Conduct
Examples of recent conduct issues:
Vintage High School Football Coach (inappropriate conduct): This
was raised by parents and school community vs. being identified
by site administration
Vintage High School Administrator (inappropriate conduct), this
was identified by parents and school community vs. site administration
Napa High Soccer Coach (inappropriate conduct) and not being cleared following NVUSD district policies. This was raised by parents who identified a concern and then identified that due process was not followed vs. being identified by site administration
2015 Spirit Leaders Hazing Incident at Napa High School: this was identified by parents and it was proven to have been a ritual for many years. Hazing did occur and Secondary Education did not bring the issue to the NVUSD School Board, nor did they take the opportunity to discuss hazing with teachers, coaches and students nor update the school’s Safety Plan and communicate to all school sites hazing definition, behavioral description and examples of consequences.
Discrimination and Violation of the EDC sections in handling the Napa High School Football Team Hazing Incident:
o Discrimination based on gender as the boy’s punishment is excessive when comparing to other known hazing incidents at Napa High school in 2015.
o Ed Code: 48900, 48911 and 48915 – Expulsion and Suspension Procedures (http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/se/expulsionrecomm.asp Failure to follow the procedure which shows the two requirements needing only one to be found was not done in any of the cases of the boys up for expulsion.
Other means of correction are not feasible or have repeatedly failed to bring about proper conduct. NO REMEDIATION WAS GIVEN NOR NEEDED in some cases.
Due to the nature of the act, the presence of the pupil causes a continuing danger to the physical safety of the pupil or others (EDN: 48915). NO STUDENT SHOWED A SAFETY THREAT ON CAMPUS
Parents informed Dr. Sweeney that the requirements to expel any of the students from 2015 and 2016 alleged incidents had not been met. They shared with him that to their knowledge neither of the two expulsion requirements were met. They also shared at a school board meeting that during cross- examination of Annie Petrie and other NVUSD administrators this was confirmed.
Annie Petrie should not have suspended to expel any of the students involved in either the 2015 or the 2016 hazing incidents as she did not meet EDN 48915 requirements which state:
Provided any remediation to the students
None of the students posed a safety or continuous danger to
themselves or to others.
Principal Petrie and Dr. Sweeney allowed the students to remain in class through January 11, 2017. In fact the students all were productive in the classroom following instruction, maintaining their grades and participating in class activities and discussion. All boys continued as academic athletes without incident and cooperated fully in the investigation. They were well behaved, respectful to others: students, peers, and teachers, administrators on and off campus. They participated fully in class, took their finals, and continued being productive young men at Napa High without incident that would cause any discipline referral to the school’s administration. Their teachers and coaches spoke on their behalf and told the administration they were good kids, did not have a history of behavioral incidents and they would vouch for them being participative in their classrooms. This didn’t influence nor impact Dr. Sweeney or Principal Petrie from going forward with suspension – expulsion on January 11. 2017 even though they had no cause for that level of discipline.
Why did Dr. Sweeney not stop this process and admit the district’s and Principal Petrie’s mistake. Why did he insist on expelling these boys and having them go to hearings when he was aware the students’ actions did not meet the requirements for mandatory expulsion, as well as the other two expulsion categories “May” or “Shall” expel. Why didn’t he right the wrong he had made?
Violation of EDC sections 32282 and 32282.1 in failing to have a clear policy regarding hazing and failing to have implemented a Comprehensive Safety Plan that includes an anti-hazing educational program for parents and students.
Violation of EDN 48911. – Suspension Process
(a) The principal of the school, the principal’s designee, or the district superintendent of schools may suspend a pupil from the school for any of the reasons enumerated in Section 48900, and pursuant to Section 48900.5, for no more than five consecutive schooldays.
(b) Suspension by the principal, the principal’s designee, or the district superintendent of schools shall be preceded by an informal conference conducted by the principal, the principal’s designee, or the district superintendent of schools between the pupil and, whenever practicable, the teacher, supervisor, or school employee who referred the pupil to the principal, the principal’s designee, or the district superintendent of schools. At the
conference, the pupil shall be informed of the reason for the disciplinary action and the evidence against him or her, and shall be given the opportunity to present his or her version and evidence in his or her defense.
(c) A principal, the principal’s designee, or the district superintendent of schools may suspend a pupil without affording the pupil an opportunity for a conference only if the principal, the principal’s designee, or the district superintendent of schools determines that an emergency situation exists. “Emergency situation,” as used in this article, means a situation determined by the principal, the principal’s designee, or the district superintendent of schools to constitute a clear and present danger to the life, safety, or health of pupils or school personnel. If a pupil is suspended without a conference before suspension, both the parent and the pupil shall be notified of the pupil’s right to a conference and the pupil’s right to return to school for the purpose of a conference. The conference shall be held within two schooldays, unless the pupil waives this right or is physically unable to attend for any reason, including, but not limited to, incarceration or hospitalization. The conference shall then be held as soon as the pupil is physically able to return to school for the conference.
Principal Petrie stated she was directed to suspend 10 students with expulsion by Dr. Sweeney. During the suspension- expulsion meeting process she:
Attempted to suspend – expulsion a student in error. At the end of the day, January 11. 2017 Dr. Sweeney stated to this student’s parent, after they objected to the suspension that there had been a clerical error and their son should not have been on the list.
Did not offer parents the opportunity for their son or them to present his her or version and/or be given the opportunity to provide evidence in his or her defense.
Did not read any of the statements from students accusing the 10 boys of mistreatment that she was suspending. Instead during direct cross – examination Principal Petrie said she implemented what she was told to do by Dr. Sweeney without auditing or verifying any information.
Lack of Care for Students:
The district’s lack of care for the safety climate at Napa High school during the last four months has been horrible. They have not been focused on the student, the individual rather their goal and their investigation. Not once did they think of the timing or the environment that they were going to interact with the student. They did not share with students that they could request a parent to be present when questioned by the police or the district’s investigator nor did they set expectations of the investigation process. There was no outreach to learn how students involved or on the “fringe” of this situation were doing and everyone has been negatively impacted by how the district
chose to handle their investigation. Students, staff, faculty all feel isolated, unsupported and morale has decreased, the climate at the school is at an all-time low and trust is not present anymore.
o The district did not provide any counseling resources to students, staff, faculty, parents upon learning of football hazing accusations in 2016. Over 158 students were interviewed, many by police, then staff from the superintendent’s office and on-going interviews with a private investigator hired by the law firm representing NVUSD. Counseling resources (form) was offered to families in on January 10th by Napa High School counseling and administrative staff who called parents and stated “now that the investigation is over we can contact you”. Students were not given support at school when it was announced 26 coaches had resigned. There was no plan in place to help them work through their feelings of sadness, frustration, anger and the feeling of being overwhelmed. Still there has been no open communication or forum for the students to talk and work through their feelings. Why not?
o Students whose names were not redacted and have learned their statements have been viewed publically and sent to attorneys and presented by the NVUSD legal team are experiencing anxiety, their parents are concerned for them, their stress levels are increasing and signs of depression are being shown as they feel betrayed by NVUSD.
o Student morale is at an all-time low at Napa High. Over 20% of students have signed a petition asking for their principal to step down; they feel betrayed by her, they feel isolated as they have been told no discussion about this situation is allowed. This goes against restorative practices, providing support to create a safe climate at school and this directly impacts the students’ engagement level, ability to participate in activities/academics at a high level and wanting to be a member of Napa High School.
o Students who were interviewed during December 2-13 were pulled from classes through call slips. They were pulled during finals to meet with investigators which caused a huge distraction not only to the student who was answering questions but to their classmates, who were now disrupted, concerned.
o Boys who were ultimately suspended were not told ahead of time to go to the district’s office; instead the district administration had them go to class and then individually pulled them from their classes. This was done not caring about the individual, not caring about their peers or teachers, but exposing them.
o Failure to include the changing of the Napa High School mascot in the Local Control and Accountability Plan for 2016/17 and 2018/19.
o Failure to identify and document the impact on changing the mascot on pupil education, failing to identify and quantify the budget expenditure requirement for this change and the impact that these expenditures have on other programs and educational outcomes.
o Failing to provide student and parent engagement or assure that this engagement or has been achieved
o Failure from Dr. Sweeney to be impartial with the decision to remove the NHS Mascot. As stated by Dr. Sweeney: “the committee made the “appropriate” decision regarding the Mascot. He was effectively saying that his mind was made up before the process even began.
o A complaint has been filed with the Napa County Office of Education and presented on March 29, 2017 regarding lack of Due Process by NVUSD.
Article: 4.5 52060 (3)
Article: 4.5 520601 (3), (4b)
Article: 4.5 520602 (1),(3)
Article: 4.5 52071
Article: 4.5 52074 (d) 3
Article: 4.5 52075
Article 4.5 EC Sections 52060 – 52076 or section 47606.5 and 47607.3
Title 5, California Code of Regulations Chapter 5.1 (commencing with
Napa High Football Returning Coaches Interviews Not Granted
o Dr. Sweeney and stated that two of the current 26 football coaches were not
going to be granted an interview to renew their coaching position with Napa High. He has been unable to provide an answer to the question as to why he made this decision, what is the data behind it? All coaches have been cleared with the NVUSD, the two coaches that were not given interviews for football are coaches of other current sport teams -Winter Wrestling as well as chaperons in an Administrative role to student field trips. Both coaches are also on staff and have no documented or known conduct issues.
o Principal Annie Petrie stated in a staff meeting on March 21, 2017 that she supported all coaches to be re-hired. As the direct Administrator of all Napa High personnel, Annie Petrie said that she had no issue with any of the 26 coaches. Why did Dr. Sweeney not grant them interviews? Why isn’t he allowing her to hire coaches that she wants and who have been cleared by NVUSD? He is not
supporting his administrator. He is over-stepping his role and it is impacting the entire school negatively. Is there a hostile work environment for Principal Petrie working under Dr. Sweeney? Principal Petrie should be able to make the hiring decision of staff she supervises with the support of Dr. Sweeney vs. his interference without cause to exclude two coaches from the opportunity to be re-hired.
For all the reasons stated above I have signed my name to the separately attached petition.
Concerned Member of the Napa Community
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