Hardy Brown Sr. | Publisher Emeritus Black Voice News

“Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening a polity, effort, or organization through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction or  . . .

Sabotage is also defined as the act of destroying or damaging something deliberately so that it does not work correctly.”

It was sometime in mid September when I heard through my personal “grapevine” that some members of the San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) Board of Education wanted to “terminate” the new superintendent, Harry “Doc” Ervin.

Harry “Doc” Ervin Superintendent of Schools SBCUSD. (Image courtesy of SBCUSD.)

At the time, Ervin had been in the position for only four months. So, I got busy trying to trace down this rumor and the more people I communicated with, the names Dr. Barbara Flores, Abigail Medina, and Danny Tillman, were mentioned as the sources behind the movement to oust Ervin.  

With that information I emailed the three board members and sought their responses to the rumors and whether the rumors were true or false.

Mr. Tillman responded to my email with a video link to a school board meeting in Bakersfield. The video did not mention anything that Doc Ervin had done wrong. I pulled up other news stories that highlighted the Bakersfield school district’s praise of Doc Ervin for a job well done and wished him well on being selected as superintendent in San Bernardino.

I also received a response from Ms. Medina stating the rumors I heard were wrong and that she knew other information that implied the superintendent must go.

What others say they heard from Tillman

A few days before the community showed up at the October 5th school board meeting seeking answers and objecting to that rumor, people who had spoken with Mr. Tillman, said he had the required four votes to fire Doc Ervin. I don’t know what happened, but they did not follow through with the vote.

Dr. Barbara Flores is one of the SBCUSD board members who want to “terminate” the district’s new superintendent, Harry “Doc” Ervin. (Image courtesy of SBCUSD.)

From my 30 years experience in Human Resources at Kaiser, nine years on the San Bernardino City School District Classified Personnel Commission and four years on the San Bernardino County Civil Service Commission, I have learned that managers and employees have many ways to terminate someone they do not like. One of those ways is to “sabotage” the employee by denying them the necessary resources or information required for them to perform their duties.

As you may remember this is what the Republicans did, or tried to do, with President Obama and are doing now with President Biden. I highlight these two men because you can see it every day and in every way.

Sabotage is something you must stay on top of because the “saboteurs” can be sneaky and cover their behavior behind well meaning statements and actions that make sense to the hearer of those statements.

Here is the latest

SBCUSD Board member Danny Tillman purportedly told sources he had the required four votes needed to fire San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools Harry “Doc” Ervin. (Image courtesy of SBCUSD.)

Which brings me to the last SBCUSD Board meeting where Mr. Tillman and Dr. Flores expressed concerns over the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent and wanted to hire a Human Relations Director to manage the Classified Employee Personnel Policies and Procedures that govern the more than 2,000 employees in the district.

Now, I am sure there have been adjustments to Senate Bill 160, known as the Rodda Act, authored by Senator Albert Rodda in 1976, which covers collective bargaining and working conditions of classified employees in public schools. As a commissioner I had to study at UCLA and educate myself on how to perform my duties as the appointed commissioner on behalf of the school board.

At the board meeting, Tillman and Flores said they are concerned that any decision that has any “ongoing financial cost to the district must be scrutinized by the board.” This is true.

There is a $125,000 annual management salary cost that is necessary in order for the superintendent to run the district, compared to the board agreement to get more money to classified employees in exchange for these classified employees’ votes in the 2022 election.

A curious comment from a union leader

I almost fell out of my powerchair while observing the recent SBCUSD board meeting; This is what happened:

Two hours and 17 minutes into the November 16, 2021, meeting, at agenda item 7.2, the 2nd Vice President of the California School Employee Association (CSEA) Chapter 183, Ben Saldago, spoke.  “I want to thank the board and two board members—you know who you are—I had a conversation with last week who helped us (CSEA) get more than what we (CSEA) were fighting for. Just know that my members (CSEA) know who you are and we (CSEA) appreciate it and you will surely have our votes when it comes to your reelection.”

Now I am sure the money they gave to CSEA over and above what CSEA was asking for will be the ongoing cost to the district that Tillman and Flores were talking about. The difference is they are hoping it will help them get reelected to the board at the expense of us, the taxpayers, while our kids suffer.

Are they placing the district at financial risk?

I say all of that because Tillman and Flores are putting the district at great financial risk by not approving a position to have someone with the knowledge and time to implement the policies set by the board. It will cost them in labor contract violations and employee grievance settlements. I know what happens in this district when the Human Resource Manager does not have the time and skills needed for this department. I have listened to employee complaints and grievances and have overturned management decisions.

I will do everything in my power to see that Tillman and Flores are not reelected. In the meantime, I am still evaluating the action(s) of Abigail Medina–in other words, stay tuned.

Hardy L. Brown, Sr. was publisher of the Black Voice News from 1980 - 2012. An active community member, Mr. Brown periodically writes opinions for the newspaper on matters or interest to the broader community.