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Trustee Calls on DA to Investigate Fresno Schools Chief, Board Members

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Fresno Unified Trustee Terry Slatic (GV WIre)
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Fresno Unified Trustee Terry Slatic is accusing Superintendent Bob Nelson and fellow School Board members of multiple violations of the state Education Code that he says requires districts to notify school staff when a student with a history of violence is transferred to a new school.

In a news release Monday, the Bullard High Area trustee said he has filed a complaint with the Public Integrity Unit of the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, “demanding that Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Bob Nelson and School Board members be held accountable for the years of individual violations of California Education Code Section 49079.”

Later Monday, the district issued a news release saying it has been in full compliance with the law.

Slatic said he has spoken numerous times with Nelson in private as well as in front of the other trustees about the alleged violations, but no action was taken to follow the campus safety law. He told GV Wire that the district violates the law “hundreds” of times weekly.

Persons found guilty of violating Section 49079, a misdemeanor, could be sentenced to six months in county jail and fined $1,000 for each offense, Slatic said.

Too Hard to Comply

Slatic said Nelson has acknowledged privately to him that the district is violating the law but said it’s too hard to comply.

“If the superintendent does not want to do his job, and the board doesn’t want to make him … Mrs. Smittcamp can get a shot at it,” he said, referring to District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp.

Nelson and board president Valerie Davis were not immediately available for comment Monday. District spokeswoman Vanessa Ramirez said a statement is expected later Monday afternoon.

Later Monday, the district sent out a statement denying that Nelson and the board have violated notification procedures in section 49079.

When Slatic raised the issue two years ago, the district detailed in a board communication how the district is complying with the law. The district’s compliance is also spelled out in the collective bargaining agreement with the Fresno Teachers Association.

The district said Slatic violated another board bylaw by using district letterhead for his media release Monday without the approval of Davis as board president and without specifying that the news release was his opinion and did not reflect the viewpoint of the board.

Jerry Stanley, spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office, confirmed that the Public Integrity Unit is reviewing the matter and gathering more information.

Slatic said he sent the complaint to the DA’s office on Wednesday, the same day his filibuster shut down the School Board meeting. He said he was forced to speak nonstop because his fellow trustees have limited the time he gets to meet with Nelson and review issues.

The board censured Slatic in August 2019 for a series of incidents earlier that year involving Bullard students, staff, and an Army recruiter. The trustees publicly renewed the censure in 2020, and then quietly lifted it in a letter sent to Slatic this month. But Davis said last week that after Slatic’s refusal to yield the floor at Wednesday’s meeting and continuing to speak — even after his mic was turned off — the censure committee may review his behavior and consider taking action.

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