Opinion by Hardy Brown Sr. | BVN Publisher Emeritus
September 26, 2021
San Bernardino City Unified School District
777 North “F” Street
San Bernardino, 92410
Honorable Board of Education Members
Dr. Gwendolyn Dowdy-Rodgers, President
Dr. Scott Wyatt, Vice President
Danny Tillman, Member, Mayra Ceballos, Member, Dr. Barbara Flores, Member
Dr. Margaret Hill, Member, Abigail Rosales-Medina, Member
Dear Board of Education
As a former school board member, I tune in from time to time and listen to your meeting just to stay current on what is happening in the district. I also do it because my grand and great grandchildren, of mixed race, are students in the district and bring concerns to me sometimes because of other students teasing them about their race. I also tune in because I am an active member of the NAACP and other community organizations at the local and state level.
I am writing you because, at your last meeting, September 21, 2021, I was surprised to hear the parents of special education students calling for you to remove/fire the newly appointed Superintendent Harry “Doc” Ervin. If I am not mistaken you went through a national search firm, for them to bring you back the TOP candidates for you to interview and select. They were to take into consideration their educational attainment, their experience and accomplishments as a superintendent in other districts that would be suitable for the demographics, culture, and needs of our student population in San Bernardino. It is my understanding that Dr. Ervin is fluent in Spanish with a strong understanding of our Spanish-speaking students’ culture.
It is my understanding that after this process the board voted unanimously to hire Harry ‘Doc’ Ervin as superintendent. I do not know him personally but have met him through Zoom at a NAACP meeting and Westside Action Group meeting. He did inform us that it would take time for him to hold meetings around the district to get to know parents, staff, students, and the community to fully evaluate the unique needs of the district and meet back with us before major changes could be implemented by the board. Both organizations agreed that time is needed for him and the board to let us know what they are going to do to improve the educational achievement of our students.
This is what I know; I did a timeline of his employment that began four months ago on June 1st and school beginning in August, just last month. These parents accused him of not being attentive to students with special needs during pandemic. Yet I found that as superintendent in Bakersfield he developed and implemented a four-point plan that had at its core students with special needs. Speakers at the September 21st meeting said a group of them met and they as a group accused him of overspending money and not being transparent. They accused him of being ‘God of the universe;’ they accused him of being conceited. They accused him of destroying the district. They accused him of not having clean schools. They accused him for them being unhappy parents. Then they accused Dr. Rogers of bad leadership. They accused Dr. Ervin of bad management that was so bad one parent took their kid out of the district and put them into a charter school.
In that group was former school board member Elsa Valdez saying that safety of students is lacking from COVID-19 protocols. She wants Dr. Ervin to be more transparent and tell her where the money is being spent. They also said he would not meet with them and sent his secretary, if that is true how do they know all these things?
I know that President Dr. Rogers reported out that this was not an organized group of speakers, yet they stated that they had met as a group and concluded these things as a group. This in my opinion is why they all said the same things. I have no problem with that strategy because I have used it before to get what I want. I have also sat on that board for twelve years and know the current board has the responsibility to investigate all complaints and render a decision that is honest, fair, and just, that is in the best interest of the public, students, and staff. Sometimes that means informing those making the complaint, that their complaint is not valid.
It was reported in the Bakersfield Californian newspaper by reporter Emma Gallegos on May 26, 2021that: “The Bakersfield City School District presented outgoing superintendent Doc Ervin with plaques and other gifts as recognition for his work with the district during Tuesday evening’s board meeting.” The article continued with this statement by the Board President, Trustee Pam Baugher presented Ervin with a plaque that was “an appreciation for keeping the district at the highest level of excellence during your leadership at BCSD and always making decisions in the best interests of students.” End of quote.
In my personal and professional opinion as a former school board member, and a 30-year Human Resource Manager their complaint has no evidence that would warrant their resolution to dismiss Dr. Ervin as superintendent. In closing, I see it as a smoke screen to hide their underlining reason of race as the problem.
Hardy Brown Sr.