The Fresno Teachers Association is demanding the Fresno Unified school board usher Superintendent Michael Hanson out of his job immediately – expediting his plans to resign in August.
FTA President Tish Rice asked at a school board meeting Wednesday that trustees strike a deal with Hanson that “results in him leaving this district as soon as legally possible.”
Hanson, who has overseen Fresno Unified since 2005, announced his intentions to leave the district last month but said he plans to stay through the summer.
“We need to look to the future with the promise of collaboration and transparency. ... Let’s not negotiate with the past, but let’s collaborate with the future,” Rice said. “You all have the power to move this district forward, and we hope you do so.”
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Neither Hanson nor any trustees responded publicly to the FTA’s demands. The school board reconvened Thursday in a rare special meeting to discuss “public employee discipline/dismissal/release/reassignment/resignation” and potential litigation, according to the meeting agenda. The agenda does not identify the employee at issue. The board reported that it took no action during the Thursday meeting.
Hanson’s resignation comes after a tumultuous year, amid a federal investigation of the district’s no-bid construction contracts and a related lawsuit.
We need to look to the future with the promise of collaboration and transparency.
FTA President Tish Rice
Rice said she wants Hanson to leave as soon as possible “in a way that is fair and not too expensive,” and pointed to ongoing negotiations with the FTA. The union and Fresno Unified leaders have gone head-to-head in bargaining sessions, with the FTA recently considering a strike.
“The school board needs to reflect on whether they want a superintendent who is leaving to represent them for a contract that will be in effect long after he’s gone,” Rice said.
A quiet change to the seating arrangement at the start of Wednesday’s meeting may be telling. Following a private session that delayed the public meeting by nearly an hour, the school board emerged with instructions to move Hanson’s nameplate to the end of the dais – removing him from his longtime seat at the center of the board.
Hanson was previously seated next to his most vocal critic on the board, Brooke Ashjian, who was elected as board president last month.
Hanson will continue to serve in his current capacity until August to ensure minimal disruption in the operation of Fresno Unified.
FUSD news release in December
The seating arrangement of elected boards across the city are mixed. Some critics of Hanson say because he is employed by the school board, and not the other way around, he should not be seated in the center.
At Clovis Unified, Superintendent Janet Young does not sit at the center of the dais, instead sitting at the end. But at State Center Community College District, Chancellor Paul Parnell is at the center of the dais, next to the board president.
Trustee Christopher De La Cerda said there was a decision by four board members to move Hanson’s seat, but it was not discussed by the full board. Ashjian contends that no vote happened.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, De La Cerda asked that Thursday’s meeting be postponed, saying that trustees were not polled about their availability. He and trustee Valerie Davis say they cannot make the meeting and were not properly involved in its planning.
“Given the seriousness and urgency of the meeting, we should either consider postponing it or include it in the next meeting,” De La Cerda said. “If it’s of such importance, whatever the issue is, that a special meeting is being called, then all board members should have their opportunity to have their voice and represent their community.”