Four members of the Hayward school board publicly acknowledged at a special meeting Thursday night that Superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs allegedly berated and cursed the board in a closed session meeting on September 16 and then made physical contact with at least one of the boardmembers. The board, however, following a two-hour closed session meeting Thursday night, made no decision on Dobbs’ future with the school district.
Two members of the board, Luis Reynoso and William McGee, filed incident reports with the Hayward Police Department following the confrontation. Reynoso said he plans to press charges against Dobbs, while McGee Is awaiting findings from an investigation by the school district before making a decision.
According to Reynoso and McGee’s account given to police, which was backed up by their board colleague’s comments Thursday, Dobbs, who was hired as superintendent in 2013, began cursing the entire board during the September 16 closed door meeting. When McGee asked Dobbs to calm down, Dobbs approached him and stood over McGee. Dobbs again began yelling profanities at McGee. Among the comments made by Dobbs was: “I have to deal with motherfucking punks like you all day,” according to both Reynoso and McGee.
Later, Reynoso, too, asked Dobbs to relax, according to Reynoso’s statement to police. “Mr. Dobbs turned his fury turned towards me. I too was seated and he came at me in a threatening and aggressive manner which made me fear for my personal safety. He was screaming shouting expletives and behaving in a[n] aggressive physical manner. I continued to tell Mr. Dobbs to calm down at the same time ordering him to stay away from me. However, he continued to approach until his chest was shoved against my shoulder and face. I made every effort to get up from my seated position but I could not because he was blocking me from rising from my chair and moving to a safe place in a room.”
McGee, who has been mostly silent over the incident other than acknowledging it took place, said Thursday night, “When we look at our school district we hope that we can cultivate a culture of no bullying and no workplace violence, so one of the reasons why this board met tonight was because there was that experience in closed session.”
Although no resolution to the matter came Thursday night, Reynoso, McGee, and two other school boardmembers Lisa Brunner and Annette Walker acknowledged last week’s incident during a board comment period. School boardmember John Taylor did not comment on the incident but later suggested to Reynoso that he understood Reynoso’s reticence about being in the same room with Dobbs.
Brunner said she was upset and embarrassed by the event last week and lamented news of the incident is overshadowing the start of the new school year. “It was very unprofessional what happened September 16 and it should not have happened,” Brunner said. “It was wrong.”
Walker added, “There is always two sides of the story. There was an unfortunate incident that did occur that evening that was unpleasant for the board,” as Dobbs entered the room just after 10 p.m. “We need to say that there was extenuating circumstances for perhaps why we saw a different side of our superintendent that evening I would say is sincerely warranted, not that it is excusable.”
Nearly a dozen public speakers, including Hayward Councilmember Sara Lamnin, Alameda County Board of Education Trustee Marlon McWilson, Hayward Education Association Union President Mercedes Faraj, and a representative from the Hayward Chamber of Commerce voiced support for Dobbs. Lamnin told the board Dobbs has made “great gains” for the school district over the past two years. “A new superintendent is the worst option,” urged Lamnin. Others consistently lauded Dobbs’ efforts in Hayward, while at the same time labeling the board as dysfunctional.
Later, Reynoso lashed out at the public speakers who mostly avoided any mention of the confrontation or Dobbs’ role in it. “This type of behavior — they would not allow in their own organizations — and they’re all here supporting him. I’m very, very disappointed.
“If we allow this individual to get by with just a slap on the hand, we’re sending the wrong message,” Reynoso added. “You do not make physical contact with the board. We are public employees. We represent the community.”
Reynoso said in an interview that he will continue to push for police officers at future school board meetings. About an hour into their closed session meeting Thursday, a security guard was summoned to the meeting following a request by Reynoso, he said.
In addition, based on the school board’s public comments, some members asserted that Reynoso and McGee’s disclosure of the September 16 closed session confrontation with Dobbs violated the Brown Act. Reynoso strongly disagreed and added, “Closed session does not support crime.”