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Grand jury report investigates Fairfax School District Board member

Posted at 7:50 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 20:30:40-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A Kern County Grand Jury report has called for the Fairfax School District Board of Trustees to "cease and desist bullying" during their meetings after finding evidence of a hostile work environment.

The allegations were directed at a member of the Fairfax School District Board of Trustees. The grand jury said its investigation prompted a resolution of Censure, which the school board has not acknowledged.

It was until May of 2020 that the board addressed formal complaints of a board member's reported harassment.

According to the report, the board member hired an outside law firm to investigate these allegations, which prompted a negative response from district community members.

The two-month-long investigation costing $40,000 was presented in November 2020.

The law firm reportedly billed the district in the amount of over $10,000. Billing details included teleconferencing with the board leadership, communication with two board members, communication with board members, and correspondences with the board president. The firm was hired despite the district having a $47,000 annual contract with Schools Legal.

According to the report on December 15, 2020, the school board was presented with the option to censure. The accused board member but did not do so, and with the cost of the investigation surrounding the accusations rising by $11,000.

This move made many community members in the district upset, saying it was a waste of resources. Over recent weeks, hundreds of community members have gone to the meetings and demanded three different board members resign from their roles.

The report also determined the Board Member failed to follow:
· Board Bylaws
· Education Code
· Government Code
· Ralph M. Brown Act
· Robert’s Rules of Order
· Ethics law and principles

The Grand Jury recommended the board remove the current president of the board and train another board member to become president by June 30.

"This will eliminate a major contributor to the dysfunction of the Board," the report stated.

Now separate from the grand jury's findings during a school board meeting on May 4, three board members: Alma Rios, Jose Luis Tapia, and at the time board President Palmer Moland were served recall notices. 23ABC reached out to the district about the recall notices and was sent a statement that read no comment.