Stockton Unified trustees voted Tuesday to layoff the equivalent of about 18 full-time certificated and classified positions, some of which are funded by one-time federal COVID-19 relief funds.
These positions will officially be eliminated at the start of the next school year on July 1 and employees that are affected by the layoffs will be notified by the middle of next week, district officials say.
Five director-level positions — community relations and business development, family resource center, maintenance and operations/transportation, technology, and educational services program — are included in the layoffs, as well as the assistant superintendent of student support services.
“This is a time where management looks at funding sources, evaluations and needs,” district spokesperson Melinda Meza told Stocktonia Wednesday of the layoffs. She also confirmed that some of the positions eliminated were indeed brought into the district via federal COVID-19 relief funds known as Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER).
Both the San Joaquin County Office of Education and the county’s Civil Grand Jury have criticized the school district for financial mismanagement, particularly with how ESSER funds have been spent.
This included using the federal relief funds — which have to be spent by Jan. 28, 2025 — to pay for “essential” salaries, benefits and services, according to the grand jury. County education officials also described the use of these kinds of one-time funds in paying for ongoing employee salaries as “generally not a good idea” and indicated that the district’s practice of such has contributed to its risk of insolvency along with myriad other financial issues, possibly leading to a state takeover if not remedied.
“There is a requirement by the County Office of Education for us to clear our books and make sure that we’re allocating the proper funds to the proper positions,” SUSD Interim Director of Labor Relations Claudia Moreno told trustees at Tuesday’s regular meeting in response to questions regarding why classified employees needed to be laid off.
Trustee Alicia Rico asked staff during the meeting why these classified positions needed to be eliminated. Moreno explained that there were “different reasons,” which included some being funded by temporary sources.
“Positions are being funded by ESSER funds which are ending this September,” Moreno said. “Those positions should have not been in a federal funded program. They should have been placed in a difference a funding source, therefore they have to be removed from this.”
It is unclear in agenda document which employee positions eliminated were paid for with ESSER allocations. District officials were also not immediately available to clarify the issue as of publication.
According to agenda documents from Tuesday’s meeting, the equivalent of about eight of the nearly 16 full-time equivalent classified positions being cut are described as open — “not held by a classified incumbent” — while the other half will result in job loss at the beginning of the next school year. Three certificated positions that were eliminated will also see layoffs, with a fourth that was originally slated to be cut taken off the table last minute.
Classified staff are educational system employees that don’t require certification, such as paraprofessionals, custodians and office or clerical staff, while certificated employees include teachers.
Staff set to be let go by the district include Director of Family Resources Center Motecuzoma Sanchez. The 209 Times founder has been on paid personal leave from the school district since Feb. 14, Meza said.
Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services Francine Baird, who will also lose her job this summer, has been on paid personal leave since Feb. 27, Meza said. The Stockton Record previously reported that Baird turned down the interim superintendent role last year after former SUSD Superintendent John Ramirez Jr. resigned.
Director of Maintenance and Operations Armando Orozco, whom Meza confirmed has been on paid administrative leave since Oct. 6, will also be laid off. Orozco demanded in a September email addressed to interim Superintendent Traci Miller that he be given an $800,000 severance to “leave your corrupt district in silence.”
District officials would not comment further on the nature of these employees’ reasons for being on leave.
Correction: The Stockton Unified Board of Education’s March 7 meeting was originally referred to as a special meeting. However, the meeting was the board’s first regular meeting of March.
This helps explains why 209 Times has been engaging in their full-press smear campaign against President Flores and the other newly appointed trustees. Not just because they gave Sanchez got the boot — but because they’ve proven to be quite affective in uncovering fraud. The grift is over — time for criminal investigations to begin!
To get a sense of how large this grift was — the combine salaries of the three directors who are being let go (Baird, Sanchez and Orozco) is approximately $525 thousand per year. In two years, that’s well over $1 million in diverted COVID funding that did nothing to address the health crisis facing the staff and students of SUSD.
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