Sep 16 2016

OPINION: School Has No Conflict of Interest Despite Charge by Piedmont Post

The Piedmont Post’s Misrepresentations and Bullying Continue – 

The Piedmont Post’s September 14, 2016 edition headline reads “School District Hit with Ethics Charge: Conflict of interest revealed in naming of Athletic Director.”  By itself, this headline misleads the public.  First, to my knowledge no “ethics charge” has been filed against the District and none is revealed in the article. Rather, it is just the Post asserting an “ethics charge.” Second, there is no conflict of interest whatsoever revealed in the article.

The facts, even as twisted in the Post article, are simple. Mr. Acuna worked with his future fiancé, Ms. Villareal, in Arizona, and in 2014 she moved back to the Bay Area.  Ms. Villareal is the sister of Mr. Mapes’ wife.  In January 2016, Mr. Mapes, Assistant Vice-Principal at PHS, posted the Interim Athletic Director position on an education job website.  Mr. Acuna, now engaged to Ms. Villareal, applied for the job.  A committee (not including Mr. Mapes) reviewed the applications, interviewed five applicants, and selected Mr. Acuna for the job.  Based on Mr. Acuna’s performance as Interim Athletic Director, the PHS Principal (not Mr. Mapes) recommended Mr. Acuna for the permanent position.  Other staff, coaches and Booster Club representatives (not Mr. Mapes) supported Mr. Acuna. The Superintendent (not Mr. Mapes) hired Mr. Acuna as Athletic Director.  Like every other business or organization, we encourage staff to identify highly qualified candidates for open positions here, but no one with a potential conflict of interest plays a role in the selection process.  Aside from posting the job notice, Mr. Mapes played no role in selecting Mr. Acuna. There is no conflict of interest.

The Post also cites Board Policy 4112.8, which provides: “In order to preclude situations which could bring about a conflict of interest for members of the administrative staff, an employee shall not be appointed to a position where a member of his or her immediate family maintains hiring, supervisory or evaluation responsibilities for the position.” A good policy and not applicable here.  As an initial matter, Mr. Acuna’s engagement to Mr. Mapes’ wife’s sister does not make him part of Mr. Mapes’ “immediate family.” More importantly, Mr. Acuna reports to the PHS Principal, Brent Daniels.  Mr. Mapes has never had “hiring, supervisory or evaluation responsibilities” for Mr. Acuna.

The Post should be ashamed of continued harassment of District employees, now expanding from Mr. Acuna and Superintendent Booker to include Mr. Mapes.  When challenged on false statements, the Post does not apologize, but rather doubles down with personal attacks.  The stalking of Mr. Mapes’ or Mr. Acuna’s Facebook page is just creepy.  The Post’s unsupported personal attacks are hurtful to people who have dedicated their lives to educating our children.  Mr. Mapes posted a job notice. Mr. Acuna applied for the job to be close to his fiancé. Superintendent Booker did his job by picking an Athletic Director who was strongly supported by staff, coaches and involved Booster Club parents.  They have done nothing to deserve the Post’s abuse.  Whether the Post has a personal grievance against the District, just wants to create controversy, or seeks to tarnish Piedmont’s reputation for some unknown reason, it is unfair and improper to misrepresent the truth.

Rick Raushenbush, Piedmont School Board Member

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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