District re­leases cease-and-de­sist let­ter

Doc­u­ment al­leges vi­o­la­tions of gover­nance stan­dards, code of con­duct by Sau­gus Union board pres­i­dent

The Signal - - Front page - By Bren­non Dix­son Sig­nal Staff Writer

Sau­gus Union School District of­fi­cials have re­leased the pre­vi­ously re­ported cease-and-de­sist let­ter that was sent in re­sponse to a union mem­ber’s al­le­ga­tions of con­duct vi­o­la­tions by the district’s board pres­i­dent.

After re­fus­ing to re­lease the let­ter prior to the elec­tion, of­fi­cials re­leased a let­ter Wed­nes­day that was ad­dressed to Board Clerk Paul De La Cerda and signed by Richa Amar, an at­tor­ney for the Sau­gus Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion.

De La Cerda pre­vi­ously said le­gal coun­sel had in­formed board mem­bers not to speak about the cease-and-de­sist let­ter, so he could not con­firm at the time if Trunkey was the sub­ject.

How­ever, the cease-and-de­sist let­ter re­leased Wed­nes­day high­lights “al­leged vi­o­la­tions of the Ed­u­ca­tional Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Act (“EERA”) and board pres­i­dent Christo­pher Trunkey’s vi­o­la­tions of the board’s Gover­nance Stan­dards and Code of Con­duct,” ac­cord­ing to the let­ter writ­ten by Amar on be­half of the

STA and its mem­bers.

“Be­gin­ning in or about Au­gust 2018, STA, led by STA Pres­i­dent Deb­o­rah Rocha, spear­headed ef­forts to vet and en­dorse board can­di­dates for the up­com­ing elec­tion on Nov. 6,” which would re­sult in the en­dorse­ment of mul­ti­ple can­di­dates, in­clud­ing one who was run­ning against Trunkey in Tues­day’s elec­tion, the let­ter states.

“Fol­low­ing STA’s en­dorse­ment of Shar­lene Duz­ick, Ms. Rocha learned that Pres­i­dent Trunkey be­gan mak­ing in­quiries of com­mu­nity mem­bers look­ing for ‘dirt’ on Ms. Rocha as a way of dis­cred­it­ing STA in re­tal­i­a­tion for its en­dorse­ment of Ms. Duz­ick,” Amar states in the let­ter.

“Ms. Rocha also learned that pres­i­dent Trunkey has con­tacted agents of Ac­ton-Agua Dulce Uni­fied School District,” where Rocha served as pres­i­dent of the board more than eight years ago, ac­cord­ing to the let­ter. The calls were to ask about Rocha’s in­volve­ment in a de­ci­sion in­volv­ing the con­tro­ver­sial Al­bert Ein­stein Char­ter School.

An Ac­ton-Agua Dulce board mem­ber on Wed­nes­day told The Sig­nal that Trunkey’s calls were about Rocha.

Ac­cord­ing to the let­ter, Rocha con­fronted Trunkey at an Oct. 16 district meet­ing and said: “I know you’ve been ask­ing around about me. What can I help you with? What do you want to know?”

“Trunkey seemed taken aback, but even­tu­ally ad­mit­ted that he was try­ing to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion about the ‘pay to play,’ re­fer­ring to the fi­nances in­volved with ap­prov­ing Al­bert Ein­stein Char­ter School,” the let­ter stated. At the end of the con­ver­sa­tion, Rocha asked Trunkey why he didn’t sim­ply ask her, “to which Mr. Trunkey re­sponded, ‘I didn’t think it was worth the time ask­ing you.’”

Amar and the STA be­lieve Trunkey’s con­duct is un­law­ful, “be­cause it in­ter­feres with, re­strains, and co­erces an em­ployee (Rocha)“sim­ply be­cause she chose to par­tic­i­pate in a pro­tected union ac­tiv­ity as a mem­ber of STA’s po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee, the let­ter states. “By Mr. Trunkey’s ac­tions, he is not only seek­ing to harm STA’s pres­i­dent’s rep­u­ta­tion and to de­ter her from en­gag­ing in pro­tected ac­tiv­ity, but also to dis­credit STA in re­tal­i­a­tion for op­pos­ing his can­di­dacy.”

As a re­sult, STA re­quested that the board clerk serve as the chair of the board’s Code of Con­duct sub­com­mit­tee to con­sider the al­le­ga­tions, the let­ter states. “STA hereby de­mands that board pres­i­dent Trunkey cease and de­sist from in­ter­fer­ing with the rights of STA and its mem­bers and from mak­ing in­quiries of third par­ties con­cern­ing Ms. Rocha.”

The board is to pro­vide a writ­ten re­sponse no later than 20 days from the re­ceipt

of cease-and-de­sist let­ter, Amar said, adding, “Please also be aware that if the com­plained-of con­duct per­sists, STA may bring le­gal ac­tion against the board and seek ap­pro­pri­ate le­gal re­lief.”

Trunkey said in an email Wed­nes­day, “On Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 26, the District re­ceived a com­plaint from CTA. Con­sis­tent with district pol­icy and pro­ce­dure, the district will in­ves­ti­gate the al­le­ga­tions and re­spond ap­pro­pri­ately. Pend­ing the out­come of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the district is not at lib­erty to com­ment fur­ther.”

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