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Calexico Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Gonzales says a few words during an opening ceremony to show off the new 16-classroom, two-story addition at Calexico High School on Oct. 27, 2020. | FILE PHOTO

Chief of Calexico’s Schools Does Not Get Contract Renewal

Board of Trustees Votes, 3-1, After Special Meeting to Not Offer Carlos Gonzales A Contract Past June 2022

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CALEXICO — Like Carlos Gonzales’ predecessor nearly four years ago to the day, another Calexico Unified School District superintendent looks to be out of a job.

Gonzales, who has led the district in either an interim or permanent capacity since the Nov. 9, 2017 firing of then-Superintendent Maria Ambriz, will not have his contract renewed when it expires on June 30, 2022, it was announced after special meeting of the school board on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Calexico Unified School District board President Ciro Calderon listens during a meeting in June at Cesar Chavez Elementary School. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. PHOTO

The vote came down 3-1 after a 75-minute meeting, with Trustee Margarita Magallanes making the motion to not extend the contract, seconded by Trustee Enrique Alvarado. Magallanes, Alvarado and board President Ciro Calderon voted to not renew, while Trustee Richard Romero voted in opposition. Trustee Lorenzo Calderon Jr. was absent from the meeting.

Gonzales had no comment when reached after the meeting.

President Calderon acted as if it was business as usual and there was nothing to see or say. He declined to speak in detail about the decision, citing it as a personnel issue and that superintendents come and go all of the time “but people just don’t know that.”

Was the board dissatisfied with Gonzales? Did that factor into the decision?

“The board at any time they can make those decisions (to not renew a contract). And again, I cannot go into details whether it (his performance) was good or not, I cannot go into any details regarding personnel issues, but is the right of the board,” Calderon said.

Superintendent Carlos Gonzales (second from left) sits on the dais with the Calexico Unified School District Board of Trustees moments after it was announced the board voted 3-1 to not renew his employment contract when it expires on June 30, 2022. The announcement was made during a special meeting on Thursday, Nov. 10. | VIDEO CAPTURE

When asked whether there was anything that led to the de facto dismissal, he said no; Gonzales’ contract and Education Code stipulate that with such a position serving at the will of the school board, a superintendent can be let go without cause so long as he or she is informed 120 days before the end of the contract.

“I’m not telling you anything confidential or that should be kept only for personnel purposes, because this is in his contract and his contract is a public document. In his contract, it states there will be 120 days before the end of his contract, which is literally four months, we have to let him know if his contract is going to be renewed or not. So, by the end of February, we will have to let him know whether we were going to renew his contract,” Calderon said.

“Basically, what we did is we just let him know a little bit ahead of time,” he added.

Calderon said it is expected that Gonzales will serve out the remainder of his term, and that the news should have no bearing on the contentious contract negotiations between the school district and the Associated Calexico Teachers, where both sides are scheduled to sit down with mediator from the state Public Employment Relations Board in December.

The Calexico Unified School District offices on Andrade Avenue are shown. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. PHOTO

On Oct. 27, the district in a statement on its website, said contract talks with the teachers’ union were at an impasse; ACT representatives did not share that opinion.

The news of Gonzales’ contract was announced out of closed session around 6:15 p.m., when the board’s attorney, Amy Estrada, read into the record: “The board took action to provide written notice to the superintendent pursuant to Section 14 of his employment contract dated July 1, 2018, as well as Education Code Section 35031 of the board’s intention to not renew the superintendent’s contract of employment beyond the current contract term.”

Gonzales took on the day-to-day operations of the district following Ambriz’s termination, which was done by a 3-2 vote, with Ciro Calderon, Lorenzo Calderon Jr. and Alvarado voting for Ambriz’s termination. Romero and former Trustee Mike Castillo voted against.

In the same special meeting on Nov. 11, the board discussed and gave several directives and made several decisions regarding in internal investigation into board member misconduct, which became public over the summer. Wednesday night’s special meeting was established initially to specifically deal with any potential discipline tied to that report. Check back for a second story on that issue.

(This story was updated on Thursday morning, Nov. 11, with additional information from Wednesday night’s special meeting.)

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