Why the Hayward school board placed Dobbs on paid administrative leave

HAYWARD | Last May, when a group of Tennyson High School parents urged Hayward Superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs to get to the bottom of why former 49ers defensive end and alleged rapist Ray McDonald was allowed to address at-risk students at the school about self-control, the superintendent said blame rested with the school’s principal and the federally-funded Hayward Promise Neighborhoods program. This was not the case, says the Hayward school board.

In a statement read at the beginning of Wednesday’s school board meeting, President Lisa Brunner announced Dobbs was being placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation is on-going over his involvement in allowing McDonald to speak at the high school. Brunner also apologized to Lori Villanueva, the Tennyson principal accused by Dobbs. The board concluded Villanueva was not to blame for allowing McDonald to visit the high school, said Brunner. Dobbs also owes Villanueva an apology, she added.

A letter from Dobbs to a Tennyson High School parent on May 28 precipatated the latest controversy with the superintendent, who last fall aggressively confronted two members of the school board in closed session. The letter sent by Dobbs to parents stated a district-level investigation of the McDonald incident had concluded that the “Tennyson High School Principal and the Hayward Promise Neighborhood Drop Out Prevention Specialist did not fully follow HUSD’s policy,” Dobbs wrote. “Although the site administrator did approve having the speaker on campus, she did not carefully or thoroughly select the speaker per policy.”

An email dated Feb. 17—a week before McDonald’s scheduled appearance—was also released by the district Thursday. The message sent by the district’s Public Information Officer Sabrina Aranda to Dobbs, Villanueva and another school district employee undermines the claim that Dobbs was unaware of McDonald’s speaking engagement.

In addition, the email also highlights McDonald’s background as a former football player recently cut from an NFL team “due to a variety of legal issues including drug use and domestic violence charges. This is an excellent opportunity for student s to hear about the importance of keeping focused and on track,” wrote Aranda.

Meanwhile, the statement released by the district Thursday is slightly more precise than the one read by Brunner the night before and, at one point, refers to Dobbs in the past tense.

“We know many of the District’s stakeholders appreciate the work of the Superintendent. We acknowledge that the work we authorized him to do, the work that he was assigned to do, he did very well. He did a great job,” said Brunner, in the statement.

“The worked NOT authorized to do is what is causing great concern. The things he did on his own, without informing the Board or worse by providing misinformation to the Board, are causing great consternation.”

The involvement of Dobbs and Aranda in the McDonald incident and possibly other issues yet to be disclosed led the school board to take action, according the statement.

“It is apparent, in order to maintain a clean, transparent investigation, and analysis of the results as we further examine this McDonald incident, we need to remove the Superintendent’s Office and Public Information Office from any further handling of any inquiries or anything else related to it.”

Matt Wayne, an assistant to Dobbs, has been named acting superintendent.

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