Former Hayward school board member failed to respond to lawsuit resulting in $660,000 judgment against school district

Then-Hayward school board member John
Taylor ran for the City Council in 2016.

HAYWARD SCHOOL BOARD
During the spring of 2016, then-Hayward school board member John Taylor was entering the stretch run of his ultimately ill-fated campaign for the City Council. But during a period when the Hayward school board was warring with each other over disciplining its embattled superintendent, Taylor, in particular, says he was pre-occupied with issues other than his duties as a school board member.

According to a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against the school district in Alameda County Superior Court by a former employee in March 2016, Taylor, as the Hayward school board’s appointed clerk, failed to notify the school district’s attorneys about the pending lawsuit, leaving them in the dark over the case. Now, the mistake could prove costly to the struggling school district’s bottom line.

On Oct. 30, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Michael Markman issued a default judgment in favor of the former employee totaling $660,994, which includes compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of past and future earnings.

The school district motioned the court last Nov. 16 to have the judgment set aside. However, Judge Markman issued a tentative ruling on Thursday that finds the school district’s attorney’s failed to file the motion to vacate the default within the six-month deadline that followed the original default issued on Nov. 1, 2016. Thursday’s hearing was continued to Tuesday, Jan. 30.

According to Taylor, he was dealing with a number of personal matters that precluded him from checking the post office box registered in his name, including a claim he suffered a stroke in April 2016–roughly a month after the lawsuit was originally filed..

“During this time, I was also going through a divorce,” wrote Taylor. “Many of my obligations suffered, and I also missed board meetings during that time. As a result, I was not regularly checking my mailbox a that time.”

Taylor, according to the affidavit, states he had never before received a complaint via the post office box.

The plaintiff’s attorney Cable Gallagher, in an email, questioned Taylor’s story. “Curiously, despite his alleged issues, Mr. Taylor was somehow able to mount a campaign for Hayward City Council in mid-2016.”

During the June 2016 Hayward City Council elections, Taylor, in a bid for four at-large seats, finished a distant sixth out of 10 candidates. Taylor’s school board seat was up for re-election later in November 2016, but he did not seek re-election.

The wrongful termination lawsuit arrived at a time of disarray at the Hayward Unified School District. The Hayward school board was battling with each other and then-Superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs over an incident in which Dobbs allegedly attacked two school board members during a closed session meeting in September 2015.

Dobbs was later put on administrative leave through much of the first half of 2016. An investigation by the school board led to a salacious report that portrayed Dobbs as having a volatile temper and allegations by a former school district employee of sexually harassment.

Taylor, though, proved to be a strong supporter of Dobbs throughout. But their relationship also got each other in hot water. An investigation determined that Taylor, with tacit approval from Dobbs, improperly used a school district print shop to create signs and other campaign materials for Taylor’s city council run. The matter was forwarded to the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, but no charges were filed. In hindsight, the print shop controversy occurred during the same period of time now being contested in the wrongful termination lawsuit.

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