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File photo
File photo

By Allison Jarrell

At the Capistrano Unified School District’s June 24 board meeting, trustees agreed to have a discussion this summer about implementing a whistleblower policy in the district.

Trustee Jim Reardon of District 2 brought up the topic of adding a whistleblower policy early in the June 24 meeting during his board comment, noting that there’s been turmoil and fear among district staff over the last few weeks in San Clemente and elsewhere.

Hundreds of residents have been attending recent CUSD board meetings and emailing district administration following the dismissal of district employees such as San Clemente High School Principal Mike Halt.

Reardon said such a mechanism in which employees can bring forward issues to the board is “sorely lacking” in such a large organization as CUSD. Reardon was encouraged by some fellow trustees and Superintendent Kirsten Vital to bring the item forward and place the discussion on the agenda for the board’s July meeting.

In his research, Reardon said he found that the only school district in California with a whistleblower policy is Los Angeles Unified School District. He said that district has a policy that would be difficult to implement at CUSD due to different district structures. He noted, however, that the University of California has such a policy, which CUSD could significantly learn from.

“When something is going on that is illegal…or contrary to the policy of the board, or creating an illegal workplace due to the working conditions, there needs to be a safety valve,” Reardon said. “So what I hope that we can do together is develop that safety valve, implement it as policy in this district and then see to it that we don’t see a repeat of the kinds of fear that were expressed over the last few weeks.”

At the conclusion of Reardon’s comment, trustees nodded heads in agreement and acknowledged that there was a consensus to have a discussion about whistleblower policy. Vital said the board has “scheduled with personnel to have the conversation July 22.”

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