Recently retired Oakdale Joint Unified School District Superintendent Fred Rich was named the superintendent/principal for the approximately 170-student Valley Home School District for the “foreseeable future” at the Valley Home Joint School District Board of Trustees regular meeting on Aug. 16.
Rich replaces Thomas Kevin Hart, who was charged on Aug. 5 by the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office with felony child molestation. The D.A.’s office would not state whether or not the children were Valley Home school students; however, a source on the school board and other sources have stated that they are not. Hart has his next court date scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 7.
Following the closed session portion of the Aug. 16 meeting, board president Ron Smith reported that the trustees unanimously decided to put Superintendent/Principal Hart on compulsory leave, effective Wednesday, Aug. 17 pursuant to California education code 44010, which has to do with a sex offense, and code 44940, which is being charged with a mandatory leave of absence offense.
Smith also stated that the board unanimously approved the contract for Rich. It calls for Rich to be paid a daily rate of $430.
At an Aug. 8 special meeting, the Valley Home school board had appointed Dr. Wendell Chun, who retired from OJUSD as Superintendent in 2008, to temporarily fill the role and to get school started following their decision to put Hart on administrative leave. Chun volunteered his services for the role and helped the Valley Home school board through the process of finding a replacement for Hart.
Hart was superintendent of the Valley Home district since 2008 where his annual salary was $94,760. He was first put on administrative leave on July 19 by a unanimous action of the board.