Michele Lecrivain | Shining a Light on the Hart District

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

When Mike Kuhlman was named new superintendent of the William S. Hart Union High School, District, I applauded your challenging the process by which he was chosen — not in the spirit or letter of the Brown Act. Even though everyone associated with the Hart district knew his appointment was destined after he left Canyon High School to join the district administration staff, you were absolutely correct in challenging the manner it was achieved.

Where is the opinion and/or article challenging the appointment of Pete Getz as “interim principal” at Valencia High School? Considering how often (board President) Linda Storli reminds anyone who attends Hart district board meetings that Pete Getz is her son-in-law, how can it have escaped your attention? This is a violation of Fair Political Practices guidelines and laws.

Just as your complaints about the appointment of Kuhlman was not an attack on his character and competence, this is not my suggesting that Pete Getz isn’t competent. He has held a principal position before, most recently at Academy of the Canyons. As a side note, Mr. Getz recently leap-frogged over every comprehensive high school principal in the district to the position of director of student services, replacing Kathy Hunter as she was promoted to assistant superintendent of curriculum. The responsibilities are well within his talents, but nepotism is always wrong.

Choosing a member of the board president’s family as principal of the largest high school in the district is at least worthy of a challenge. The board said this was an interim appointment. Perhaps you don’t remember that the last superintendent was, initially, also interim and yet it lasted several years and that appointment was even more flawed than Kuhlman’s. After the first open meeting when the appointment of Vicki Engbrecht was announced, I spoke with (a representative of) the Hart District Teachers Association. I asked why he had gone to the microphone to sing her praises, claiming he carried the endorsement of all the teachers, especially when he knew as well as I did that the rank and file of his union reviled her. He said he had to do it because a board member, Steve Sturgeon, had told the HDTA that if they didn’t endorse her, Mr. (Rob) Challinor would remain as superintendent. Imagine his surprise when I told him Rob Challinor had turned in his retirement papers three months before and it was a done deal.

In bygone days The Signal had real investigative reporters and didn’t just print what the PIO of the Hart district provided as “news.” Tim Whyte, as editor in a previous lifetime at The Signal, ran stories about the $46 million over-run on Measure V, and it was part of the reason for the comprehensive audit that restored $35 million to Measure V. That no one went to jail for that misappropriation is a shame, but, at least the money was restored and projects at Hart High School, Placerita Junior High School and Sierra Vista Junior High School began in earnest. Once, this paper had a backbone. Where is it now? Former Hart board member Dennis King once said in open session that the board violated the Brown Act so often it wasn’t worth mentioning. He was right about that.

I have sat in the front row of the meetings for 15 years and have watched this behavior unfold over and over again. The Hart district board members will violate, and have, as many rules, laws and guidelines as they want unless someone calls them on it and holds their collective feet to the fire of public scrutiny.

Oh yes, because even I initially missed this one, regarding the recent printing of the Golden Oak Adult School brochure that was mailed to the entire population of Santa Clarita, there on the front page was a lovely color photo of Storli. This is against the law and has been for decades. No elected official may use printed material paid for by tax dollars to promote themselves. She is running for re-election and we just paid for her campaign literature.

Michele Lecrivain

Santa Clarita

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