If you have a press inquiry or press request for our group, please contact us at: Press@ElDoradoParents.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 15, 2016

CONTACT: Angie Platt (916) 769-9963

press@ElDoradoParents.com

third lawsuit filed over A three month span against El Dorado COUNTY’S LARGEST high school district

suit against EDUHSD by a former employee claims sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and wrongful termination

El Dorado Hills, CA - Former El Dorado Union High School District (EDUHSD) employee Nadia Maddox has filed a lawsuit in El Dorado Hills Superior Court against the district and it’s embattled Superintendent Stephen Wehr. The latest emerging lawsuit represents the third pending case filed against El Dorado County’s largest high school district in recent months. In the suit, Maddox claims she was discriminated and harassed by the district’s top administrator, Stephen Wehr, for whom she worked for directly as an administrative assistant.

Maddox claims that her pregnancy in 2014 led to this harassment and discrimination by Wehr and eventually her wrongful termination. Specifically, the suit details the following episodes:

  • After learning of her pregnancy, Wehr’s attitude towards her “changed dramatically”
  • Wehr constantly referred to Maddox’s pregnancy as a “condition” and limited her responsibilities
  • Wehr wrongly terminated her in a face-to-face meeting where he called her “stupid”

“It began with the board’s violation of state law surrounding the Brown Act last year, then continued with a rash of student safety scandals and management failures, and now three disturbing lawsuits are filed against the district in a span of three months,” said Brent Lowder, a co-chair of EDPDC. “District parents like me have gone from mildly concerned to totally disgusted over the past 12 months. We’ve never seen such abysmal leadership by a group of elected and appointed education leaders. This is why our group now exists and we plan to make our voices heard on November 8th and beyond to stop these failures.”

The 9-page Maddox lawsuit filed can be viewed here.

This third lawsuit filed against EDUHSD in recent months represents an unprecedented amount of legal exposure for the district and is part of a continuing pattern of mismanagement and student safety failures recently plaguing district administrators and the Board of Trustees.

The two additional lawsuits include one filed in federal court by former Oak Ridge High School principal Paul Burke. Burke, who was universally praised by student and parents at ORHS during his tenure as principal, was released by the EDUHSD Board of Trustees in February despite an outpouring of support from the community after a drawn out and flawed internal investigation. The controversy surrounding his dismissal, which began with an allegation that was swiftly discredited, has put the district in a precarious legal position.

The 21-page Burke lawsuit filed can be viewed here.

The final lawsuit pending was filed by former Union Mine High School student Nick Brown and his parents and claims gross negligence in relation to injuries Brown suffered in a football game last fall. During the course of the game, Brown sustained a massive, traumatic brain injury and had to be immediately flown via helicopter to the hospital, yet the district failed to have any medical personnel present during the game or follow standard protocols to protect student athletes and inform their parents of potential lapses in medical support services.

The 10-page Brown lawsuit filed can be viewed here.

El Dorado Parents for District Change is focused on positive, long-term district change. They are dedicated to working tirelessly towards this goal, starting with addressing clear failures of the EDUHSD Board of Trustees and their top administrators during the fall election, when two seats on the Board will be decided.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 15, 2016

CONTACT: Angie Platt (916) 769-9963

press@ElDoradoParents.com

ORHS Former Principal Paul Burke Files Lawsuit Against High School District for Wrongful Termination and Defamation

Lawsuit also names Superintendent Stephen Wehr, human resources administrator Tony DeVille, and Burke’s discredited accuser

El Dorado Hills, CA - Former Oak Ridge High School (ORHS) principal Paul Burke filed a lawsuit in federal court yesterday against the El Dorado Union High School District (EDUHSD). Burke, who was universally praised by student and parents at ORHS during his tenure a principal, was released by the EDUHSD Board of Trustees in February despite an outpouring of support from the community after a drawn out and flawed internal investigation. Given the controversy surrounding his dismissal, which began with an allegation that was swiftly discredited, the lawsuit appeared imminent and the district seems to be in precarious legal position. El Dorado Parents for District Change, a local organization of parents established as a result of the controversy, quickly praised the expected development.

“Paul Burke’s dismissal was complete debacle and the district has significant legal liability in the matter,” said Brent Lowder, a co-chair of EDPDC. “We expect the district will lose in court, or settled to limit the damage from their horrendous handling of the entire process. But the real loss in all this was the ORHS community who lost a dynamic and progressive principal.”

“It’s unfortunate that it had to come to this point, but we are happy to see Paul Burke on a path to achieving the justice he clearly deserves,” said Erin Walsh, another co-chair of EDPDC. “We also look forward to Burke fully restoring his impeccable standing in the community as this process unfolds.”

The 21-page lawsuit filed can be viewed here. Additionally, we have provided a summary narrative of the lawsuit filing below.

Lawsuit Summary Narrative

The lawsuit details retaliation against Burke by district leadership and a desire to smear his reputation and damage his career during the process, especially when Burke chose not to quietly resign as suggested to him early in the process. Superintendent Wehr and Assistant Superintendent DeVille, in an attempt to cover up their own handling of the situation, were looking for reasons to dismiss Burke and used Courtney Soto’s discredited and defamatory statements as a basis to do so. Ms. Soto had served as Burke’s Administrative Assistant and acted with malice when she fabricated a false sexual harassment allegation involving Burke and another employee. The alleged victim, a female teacher at the school, immediately and vehemently denied that she had ever reported that Burke sexually harassed her and stated to the contrary that Burke had only made positive and professional comments to her. After being disproved, Soto continued to make up other claims to cover up the original disproven allegation.

In addition, Burke’s lawsuit describes how district personnel, district leadership and members of the Board of Trustees engaged in misleading behavior in their attempt to discredit Burke. In one instance, the lawsuit cites an email written by Mr. DeVille in which Mr. DeVille writes “My thinking is that I do not turn over a summary of my investigation because I did not conduct an investigation.”

The lawsuit further indicates that district leadership hired the Bodine Group to target Burke and try and cover-up their negligent handling of the situation. The district purported that the Bodine Group was a completely independent third party but failed to disclose that the group had a previous relationship with Board Member Timothy Cary, while Mr. Cary served as General Counsel for the Twin Rivers Unified School District.

Mr. Cary has been the subject of several Grand Jury investigations for his actions as a school board member. In 2014-2015 the El Dorado County Grand Jury concluded that Mr. Cary had confused his participation on the EDUHSD Board of Trustees with his professional career, to the detriment of the district. The Grand Jury report also concluded that Mr. Cary wielded too much influence over the board and was primarily responsible for the board’s deviation from the Ralph M. Brown Act. Burke’s lawsuit further alleges numerous violations of the Brown Act by Superintendent Wehr and the Board of Trustees during their handling of the situation involving Burke.

El Dorado Parents for District Change is focused on positive, long-term district change. They are dedicated to working tirelessly towards this goal, starting with addressing clear failures of the EDUHSD Board of Trustees and their top administrators during the fall election, when two seats on the Board will be decided.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 10, 2016

CONTACT: Angie Platt (916) 769-9963

press@ElDoradoParents.com

Local parents react as EDUHSD board of trustees consider a salary increase for embattled Superintendent Stephen Wehr

“real world” and “fiscally responsible” decision is called for after a string of scandals and controversies during Wehr’s brief tenure

El Dorado Hills, CA - Per the meeting agenda released for this evening’s Board of Trustees meeting, the El Dorado Union High School District (EDUHSD) is considering a salary raise for their embattled district Superintendent Stephen Wehr. During his 18-month tenure, district high schools have been shaken by scandal and controversy. Union Mine had a drug scandal with two students hospitalized in 2015. Ponderosa had multiple reports of child pornography on campus last year and then a student and coach sex scandal erupted earlier this year. Then just months ago, the beloved principal at Oak Ridge was released with wide-spread controversy and then the school had students accused of racist taunts at a basketball game with no principal on campus at the time. El Dorado Parents for District Change (EDPDC) has issued the following statements on the board’s potential action this evening.

“In the real world, a string of scandals and controversies like these result in a top executive being fired or suspended,” said Brent Lowder, a co-chair of EDPDC. “The fact that the board is even considering giving Wehr a pay raise demonstrates how detached from reality their decision-making process has become.”

“Superintendent Wehr wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars this year when he decided to outsource his human resource responsibilities to an outside consulting firm surrounding the Oak Ridge Principal controversy,” said Erin Walsh, a co-chair of EDPDC. “A fiscally responsible board would be considering a salary deduction for Wehr or other budget saving measures after his latest management debacle, not an increase. I hope sanity somehow prevails this evening, rather than this trend of delusional decisions.”

El Dorado Parents for District Change (EDPDC) has submitted another letter to EDUHSD Superintendent Stephen Wehr requesting a full set of records and policies improvements surrounding the Union Mine High and Ponderosa incidents mentioned above. The goal is to gain a full understanding of district supervision and safety policies in effect at the time of the incidents along with updated procedures that are being followed to ensure such events are avoided in the future. A copy of the letter can be viewed here.

El Dorado Parents for District Change is focused on positive, long-term district change. They are dedicated to working tirelessly towards this goal, starting with addressing clear failures of EDUHSD Administrators.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 14, 2016

CONTACT: Angie Platt (916) 769-9963

press@ElDoradoParents.com

photograph shows Oak Ridge administrators at awards banquet INSTEAD OF GAME when controversial racist taunts occurred

Parents demand explanation of incident aND district response and policies to ensure better student supervision and safety measures

El Dorado Hills, CA - A recently released El Dorado Union High School District (EDUHSD) photograph shows three of the four Oak Ridge High School (ORHS) top administrators attended an awards banquet on February 25, 2016 honoring then soon to be named interim ORHS Principal Aaron Palm. The banquet occurred the same evening the school hosted a playoff basketball game where controversial racist comments were reported from the student section.

The EDUHSD awards banquet press release, which can be viewed here, includes an event photograph that shows ORHS Assistant Principals Lindsey Kovach, Don Azevada, and Ron Thomas all in attendance with Superintendent Stephen Wehr. The now interim ORHS Principal Aaron Palm attended as well and was honored at the event.

“The first priority of district and school administrators should be the safety and supervision of their students,” said Jason Fong, a district parent. “Unfortunately it appears local administrators decided attending an awards banquet was more important than student supervision at a regional playoff game. This is unacceptable. District leadership owes our community a public explanation of why this choice was made how these issues are being addressed moving forward.”

On behalf of district parents, El Dorado Parents for District Change (EDPDC) has submitted a letter to EDUHSD Superintendent Stephen Wehr requesting a full explanation of the incident, associated district and school records, and an understanding of district supervision and safety policies in effect at the time of the incident along with updated procedures that are being followed to ensure such events are avoided in the future. A copy of the letter can be viewed here.

“The failures of EDUHSD leaders continue to pile up and their poor judgement should concern every parent in the district,” said Brent Lowder, a co-chair of EDPDC. “In this latest incident, not only did they make a huge mistake by having top administrators attend their awards banquet instead of supervising a high-profile basketball game, but they chose to further promote themselves in a press release knowing it occurred the same night of the now infamous controversy. The height of their arrogance and ongoing mismanagement is staggering.”

The photograph with noted banquet attendees highlighted is shown below.

EDUHSD photograph from February 25th Awards Banque

El Dorado Parents for District Change is focused on positive, long-term district change. They are dedicated to working tirelessly towards this goal, starting with addressing clear failures of EDUHSD Administrators.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 24, 2016

CONTACT: Angie Platt (916) 769-9963

press@ElDoradoParents.com

High School District's Own Public Documents Show Another Potential Brown Act Violation

Official minutes and agenda reveal board's controversial decision may have been made in secret before final session

El Dorado Hills, CA - Recently posted El Dorado Union High School District (EDUHSD) meeting minutes show the Board of Trustees may have again violated the Brown Act before their controversial decision last month to release Paul Burke, the popular former principal of Oak Ridge High School. Minutes from the February 23rd meeting detail that the board took "no action" in closed session on the Burke matter before scheduling a final meeting for 6 days later. However, the February 29th meeting agenda, posted prior to the evening meeting, specifically notes "release" in regard to the eventual action taken with Mr. Burke.

"Once again the board owes district parents a full explanation for its highly questionable actions," said Brent Lowder, Co-Chair of El Dorado Parents for District Change (EDPDC). "They either violated the Brown Act by making a final decision in secret or Superintendent Stephen Wehr made a disturbing assumption and owes the entire community a public apology."

The EDUHSD Board of Trustees has a troubling history of operating outside the Brown Act, resulting in public complaints, a 2015 county grand jury investigation, and recent training sessions to avoid further violations. A link to the 2014-15 Grand Jury Report on this matter can be viewed here.

This new potential violation of the Brown Act occurred less than 12 weeks after their most recent training meeting on the matter.

"It would seem the EDUHSD Board believes it can continue to violate state law and it will go unnoticed by the community that elected them," said Erin Walsh, another Co-Chair of EDPDC. "Their continual and blatant disregard of transparency shows a level of arrogance that is extremely alarming. This is precisely why our group has come together to make district change."

EDUHSD's posted meeting minutes and agenda which highlight the potential violation can be viewed here: (1) minutes, (2) agenda.

EDPDC has submitted a letter to the district, in accordance with the California Public Records Act, requesting immediate disclosure of all related documents and communications surround the potential violation. A copy of this letter can be viewed here.

El Dorado Parents for District Change is focused on positive, long-term district change. They are dedicated to working tirelessly towards this goal, starting with addressing clear failures of EDUHSD Administrators.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 10, 2016

CONTACT: Angie Platt (916) 769-9963

press@ElDoradoParents.com

Wehr’s Suggestion of Resignation to Burke in Dec 2015 May Show Clear Failure of Resolution Process

Bodine Group Mandate and Wehr Objectivity Questioned in EL DORADO UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT Records Request

El Dorado Hills, CA - In a second California Public Records Act request, El Dorado Parents for District Change (EDPDC) is asking for clarity on EDUHSD's engagement of The Bodine Group in the matter surrounding former Oak Ridge Principal Paul Burke. According to meeting minutes, on December 17, 2015 the Board of Trustees directed Superintendent Stephen Wehr to "make use of outside resources to identify issues and solutions." Then, just 26 days later the mandate changed to an "Analysis and Assessment" by The Bodine Group. Even more concerning than this major shift from finding solutions to assessing climate are Mr. Wehr's potential comments to Mr. Burke eight days prior to, and four days following the Dec 17th Board meeting. According to Mr. Burke's draft lawsuit, on both December 9th and 21st Mr. Wehr stunningly suggested to Mr. Burke that his resignation could solve the matter.

"If Mr. Wehr was already suggesting resignation to Mr. Burke five weeks before the Bodine Group’s engagement, then it strains any reasonable credibility that he was genuinely interested in working towards a resolution," said Brent Lowder, Co-Chair of EDPDC. "The board rightly directed Mr. Wehr to seek solutions, but he may have already begun to set in motion a predetermined outcome. If the search for any resolution with Mr. Burke had been abandoned by early December, as Mr. Wehr’s own comments appear to suggest, then this process was fatally flawed from the start."

In their latest letter of request to EDUHSD, as allowed under the California Public Records Act, EDPDC has asked for all information surrounding Mr. Wehr’s communications with key personnel on this matter, as well as all details pertaining to the selection process and engagement of the Bodine Group.

“As parents in the district, we have a right to understand how our district administrators conducted, and potentially botched, this entire process,” said Erin Walsh, another Co-Chair of EDPDC. “Furthermore, when you consider it involves the leadership of the community’s largest high school, our request for complete understanding and full transparency should be made a top priority and quickly addressed.”

Below is the troubling sequence of events that our information request letter seeks full transparency on:

DATE INCIDENT
Nov 2, 2015 Mr. Burke placed on paid leave as a result of a swiftly disproven allegation
Nov 17, 2015 Asst. Superintendent DeVille states “I did not conduct an investigation”
Dec 9, 2015 Mr. Wehr first suggests resignation in conversation with Mr. Burke
Dec 17, 2015 Board approves search for outside help to “identify issues and solutions”
Dec 21, 2015 Mr. Wehr again suggests resignation in conversation with Mr. Burke
Jan 12, 2016 Board approves retaining Bodine Group for “Analysis and Assessment”

El Dorado Parents for District Change is focused on positive, long-term district change. They are dedicated to working tirelessly towards this goal, starting with addressing clear failures of EDUHSD Administrators.

STATEMENT ON THE BODINE GROUP REPORT

El Dorado Parents for District Change (EDPDC) was provided a copy of the Bodine Group report Friday evening (3/4/16) by the El Dorado Union High School District per our written request. We commend the district for taking a first step on a path toward full transparency of this process. There are however, many more questions and facts that should be provided to fully understand the process and the mistakes that were made. It is this path that will help us determine the positive changes that need to be made moving forward.

After reviewing the report, EDPDC leadership has the following reactions.

The broad and deep community support for Paul Burke is now validated. For months, all who know or have interacted with Mr. Burke had to trust in his strong character without knowing the details of the situation. Upon our full review of the report, it is quite clear this trust was well placed.

The approach and tone of the report seem completely misguided. The stated “mandate” of the investigation contained in the report is surprisingly directed to “assess” and “gather data” on a tainted “climate” rather than searching for a path to a resolution. In fact, at no time are words or terms such as fixing, resolving, or finding a resolution even used in the mandate, as per the direction of the Board of Trustees. Additionally, the tone of the entire report is oddly editorialized rather than being an unbiased search for the facts.

Beyond the initial disproven allegation that started this entire process, the report appears to contain additional false allegations, potentially from the same discredited staff member. While EDPDC cannot know the details surrounding each one, it would appear Mr. Burke’s lawsuit, which EDPDC has also reviewed, is being filed to directly refute nearly all of this.

Even if the report was accurate, which appears to not be the case, not one of the issues addressed in the report constitutes justifiable cause for Mr. Burke’s dismissal or release. Rather, the issues raised appear to be the typical results of a management team not always in agreement with a dynamic team leader with relentless drive to get the best from his top leaders. Again, Mr. Burke was not removed from campus and put on leave on November 2, 2015 for management or leadership conflict, yet the report is almost entirely focused on these issues.

As we have pointed out before, after the staff member’s initial allegation was almost immediately discredited, for some unknown reason she was left on campus while Mr. Burke was put on administrative leave. So it is clear the entire Bodine investigation was conducted in a toxic and contaminated climate.

At the advice of legal counsel, EDPDC is unable to make the report fully public. However, a local news organization is reporting on its specific content.

Again, we commend the District for this first step toward full transparency. But with many more facts remaining to fully understand how this defective process was allowed to occur, EDPDC will be relentless in seeking the full truth from the district in the coming months.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 4, 2016

CONTACT: Angie Platt (916) 769-9963

press@ElDoradoParents.com

Details Emerge on Timeline Surrounding Discredited Accuser Remaining at Oak Ridge

Community Calls for EDUHSD Full Transparency of Flawed Process Resulting in Burke Release

El Dorado Hills, CA – El Dorado Parents for District Change has begun to piece together a disturbing timeline surrounding Courtney Soto's initial discredited allegation against Paul Burke and how she remained at the school after he was removed from the campus. The entire episode appears to include clear failures of the internal HR process, a toxic climate that was allowed to develop with campus leadership, and a Bodine Group report conducted after the situation had completely deteriorated. A request for additional information surrounding this timeline was submitted to EDUHSD on Wednesday to ensure full transparency of the flawed process.

"Even with some information not yet known, it's quite obvious massive mistakes were made by district administrators from the start,” said Brent Lowder, Co-Chair of El Dorado Parents for District Change. “The fact that Mrs. Soto remained on campus while Mr. Burke was removed, even after her initial allegation was proven utterly false, is astonishing. The timeline emerging from this whole situation is extremely concerning and district administrators owe our community a full explanation."

The following are the emerging details of the timeline surrounding the bungled four-month process. The sequence demonstrates some staggering delays, including:

  • District administrator admits he “didn’t investigate” for 28 days after sexual harassment claim made
  • Oak Ridge Parents notified 29 days after Burke’s removal from campus
  • Mrs. Soto, the discredited accuser, left on campus for 102 days after Mr. Burke’s removal

Requests for information made to the EDUHSD on Wednesday would confirm this timeline and provide additional critical details to fully understand the many mistakes made by district administrators.

DATE INCIDENT
Jun 2014 & Jun 2015 Burke given two exemplary annual performance reports
Oct 20, 2015 First false allegation made by Mrs. Soto against Mr. Burke
Oct 27, 2015 First allegation made by Mrs. Soto proven utterly false
Nov 2, 2015 Mr. Burke placed on paid leave, removed from campus, Mrs. Soto remains at school
Nov 17, 2015 District Administrator admits he “didn’t investigate” the matter (28 days after sexual harassment claim was made)
Dec 1, 2015 Oak Ridge Parents finally notified of situation (29 days after Mr. Burke’s removal)
Dec 17, 2015 Board approves Superintendent to search for outside help
Jan 12, 2016 Board approves The Bodine Group to assist in the matter
Jan 14, 2016 Bodine Group begins assessment of the now toxic climate at the school
Feb 12, 2016 Mrs. Soto removed from school (102 days after Mr. Burke’s removal - EDUHSD date confirmation requested)
Feb 29, 2016 Mr. Burke released by Board of Trustees

El Dorado Parents for District Change is focused on positive, long-term district change. They are dedicated to working tirelessly towards this goal, starting with swift change with EDUHSD Administrators.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 2, 2016

CONTACT: Angie Platt (916) 769-9963

press@ElDoradoParents.com

Pending lawsuit shows false allegations created a toxic environment at Oak Ridge once Burke left campus

District administrators inexplicably left discredited accuser at school for several months as outrageous claims continued

El Dorado Hills, CA – The draft lawsuit Paul Burke is expected to file against EDUHSD paints a disturbing picture of deception and staggering mismanagement by district administrators. With details now emerging, it is clear that a pattern of lies by Oak Ridge staff member Courtney Soto was not dealt with for months and created a cloud of deception among campus management. Then district administrators failed to properly address the situation and remove her from the campus after the first of her several false allegations was disproven. Furthermore, she may have been allowed to remain on campus as a result of close ties and relatives at EDUHSD offices. Finally, the district hired the Bodine Group, at additional tax payer expense, to conduct an investigation in a poisoned environment that could only result in a determination that Mr. Burke was unable to lead the campus effectively going forward.

This very troubling sequence must be better understood so district administrators can be fully held accountable to the community they serve.

Therefore, El Dorado Parents for District Change has submitted a formal request to Superintendent Wehr this morning for further details surrounding the matter.

This formal request includes the following questions and requests to the district:

  1. Confirmation and copies of the exceptional performance reviews of Mr. Burke for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school year.
  2. Is Ms. Soto the daughter of the Assistant to Assistant Superintendent Chris Moore (what is the exact relationship)?
  3. Was Ms. Soto disciplined or terminated for claiming a litany of false and damaging claims against Mr. Burke?
  4. If Ms. Soto was not terminated is she still an employee of the EDUHSD, and if so is she an active employee or on paid leave?
  5. Once the first allegation was confirmed as false, why was Ms. Soto allowed to remain at Oak Ridge and not put on immediate leave? Furthermore, how many days did she remain on campus after this first false claim was made?
  6. Did Ms. Soto share with campus staff, during a confidential investigation, her false allegations against Mr. Burke regarding campus staff AND Board of Trustee members?
  7. Notes and determinations from Assistant Superintendent Tony Deville on his brief investigation into the false allegations against Mr. Burke and his justification for allowing Ms. Soto to remain on campus.
  8. Notes and determinations of the Bodine Group investigation report that was conducted under a growing cloud of deception.
  9. Total approved contracted cost for Bodine Group report with invoiced expense amounts.

Providing this information is the next step to ensure transparency to the community, and will begin the process of correcting and ensuring these types of massive failures by district administration do not occur in the future.

El Dorado Parents for District Change is focused on positive, long-term district change. They are dedicated to working tirelessly towards this goal, starting with swift change with EDUHSD Administrators.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 1, 2016

CONTACT: Angie Platt (916) 769-9963

press@ElDoradoParents.com

Statement from Paul Burke

When I came to Oak Ridge High School two and a half years ago, I had dreams of making this a world-class school where every student of every skill level, background, ethnicity and orientation had an opportunity to shine. With the help of our amazing staff, our students rose to the challenge, proving you could have respect for all while elevating the levels of academic achievement, athletics, arts, leadership and any number of the powerful clubs and programs on our campus. Oak Ridge’s parents proved that El Dorado Hills is an unbelievable place to live, filled with those who support their children and give generously to all programs at Oak Ridge. Together, we all saw our campus culture improve, test scores rise, championships won, scholarships earned, and learning abound in a safe and respectful environment.

My wife and children have sacrificed greatly for Oak Ridge, too. I made it a point to get to work early, stay late and attend as many events as I could so that our students could see that their principal was as committed to their school as they were. This meant time away from my wife and kids—time that I’ll never get back but that I know was worth the sacrifice for this great community.

I was falsely accused of sexual harassment in October and I immediately reported it to the Superintendent and the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources. Despite the district's acknowledgement very early on that the accusation was completely unfounded, I was placed on administrative leave while the district continued to entertain additional unfounded allegations from the same accuser. Each time they closed the door on one allegation, a new, even more outrageous allegation, would surface. No person can thrive, let alone exist, in any employment situation where the leadership allows this to continue and does nothing to stop it. During this process, I chose to remain silent publicly as I held out hope for my return to Oak Ridge. It was my belief that as each of these allegations were proven to be completely false I would move closer to returning to Oak Ridge. Unfortunately, with each false allegation, and spread of the ensuing rumor, the culture at Oak Ridge deteriorated, thus diminishing my ability to return and lead successfully.

As great as Oak Ridge is, no principal can thrive under district leadership that has twice encouraged his resignation under the shadow of false allegations and has made it clear that they do not support the direction of the school, its Foundation, or his broad and innovative leadership vision. Any chance that I had of successfully returning back to Oak Ridge has been destroyed by the manner in which this situation has been handled and the length of time it has taken to arrive at a resolution. The chances of my return eroded with every passing day in which the rumors and false allegations were allowed to spread. And while I have never been the type to seek redress from a courtroom, the district has left me little choice but to go to a place where due process still exists.

While I have been off these past four months on leave, I have seen the toll this situation has taken on my wife and children. I’m grateful that the Board of Trustees has finally made a decision tonight that will allow us to move forward as a family.

To the past, current, and future Oak Ridge High School Trojans and their families, in addition to the great many incredible staff members at Oak Ridge, I wish you all the very best. Pam and I are incredibly grateful for the support we have received. We have been truly touched and humbled by the outpouring of love and kindness that has been shown to our family over the past four months.

Sincerely,
Paul

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 23, 2015

CONTACT: Angie Platt (916) 769-9963

press@ElDoradoParents.com

EL DORADO COUNTY LOCAL PARENT COMMITTEE FORMS TO DEMAND DISTRICT CHANGE

DISTRICT ADMINSTRATORS’ RECENT FAILURES RESULT IN COMMUNITY UPRISING

El Dorado Hills, CA - Local parents in El Dorado County have launched a new committee to demand change within the El Dorado Union High School District. Ongoing failures by district administrators have led to mounting frustrations with many in the community. Most recently, the lack of urgency surrounding the still unresolved matter with popular Oak Ridge High School Principal Paul Burke and his continued absence from the campus has exhausted community patience.

“Two top high schools in our district have just been through disturbing scandals and now our largest high school has been without its popular Principal for over 48% of the school year,” said Brent Lowder, a Co-Chair of the committee. “District administrators have failed to do their jobs, so it’s time to hold them accountable for their lack of action. They owe the Board of Trustees, and more importantly, the parents in our community a full explanation of their failures.”

A group of local parents formed the new committee, which is dedicated to addressing not just the ongoing delay with Mr. Burke, but the larger issue of district administration’s lack of accountability and competency. The committee will also emphasize positive action and engagement to ensure efforts are focused on ongoing improvement and education excellence.

“Today, we are calling for the Board of Trustees to investigate and assess the recent failures by District leadership to determine if the right people are in place to lead the high school district successfully,” stated Erin Walsh, a co-chair of the committee. “The community cannot move forward in good faith or with trust in leadership without a clear explanation of these failures.”

The new committee, which just begun raising funds for community outreach, has already completed its first campaign effort. Last evening, over 26,800 district voters were contacted with an automated phone message about growing community concerns about the high school district and urging them to get involved by visiting the committee’s new website.

El Dorado Parents for District Change is focused on positive, long-term district change. They are dedicated to working tirelessly towards this goal, starting with swift change with EDUHSD Administrators.

Visit the website at ElDoradoParents.com

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