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McKinney terminated without cause

HESPERIA • The trustees of the Hesperia Unified School District have ousted their longtime Superintendent Mark McKinney without cause at an emergency board meeting Tuesday night.

The vote was 3-2, with trustee Hardy Black and new trustees Ella “Lee” Rogers and Cody Gregg voting yes to have his employment terminated immediately. Niccole Childs and Eric Swanson voted to keep McKinney at his post, which he has held for five years. As the three trustees who voted yes left the meeting, they were heckled and booed by many of McKinney’s supporters.

At this time, it is unknown what warranted McKinney’s termination, although it is rumored to be a political vendetta on behalf of Rogers, Gregg and a romantic relationship the assistant superintendent of personnel services, Karen Kelly had with an outside contractor, which cost the district half a million dollars.

According to inside sources, McKinney still has 18 months on his contract, which the district will have to pay out. In the mean time, McKinney was assigned to be a vice principal at Hesperia High School.

During the meeting, a large number of people held signs that read “recall” and “we still support Mark.” The recall signs were aimed at the two newest board members, Rogers and Gregg.

On Dec. 12, the board held an identical meeting regarding McKinney’s employment and decided to keep him in his post. Both meetings were posted only 24 hours in advance, and garnered a large number of McKinney supporters who pleaded with the board on his behalf.

“I think that instead of being the leaders this district needs, they’re using the forum on the school board to exploit people politically,” Betsy Patridge, lead negotiator for the Hesperia Teachers Association, said. “Their last concern is the children of this school district.”

McKinney started with the school district as a teacher and worked his way up the ranks to his post as superintendent. He was selected to share interim superintendent duties in August 2007 when the district’s previous superintendent, Hank Richardson, went into early retirement. McKinney was appointed interim superintendent that same month and went on to become the permanent superintendent of HUSD.

“What did he do wrong?” asked Rebekah Swanson, wife of board member Eric Swanson and a mother of two children in the district. “Nothing. I’ve been a teacher for 28 years and this is a sad day.”

Lynnea Lombardo may be reached at (760) 951-6232 or at LLombardo@VVDailyPress.com.

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