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OJUSD Board Names New Superintendent

Following a stretch of years which have been anything but low key, the Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees has appointed Deputy Superintendent of Pupil Services, Larry Mendonca, as the new Superintendent of Schools.

The appointment was formally announced at the June 12 school board meeting.

Mendonca will enter into a three-year contract beginning July 1, 2023 through June 2026. He will be evaluated on an annual basis by the board.

“We’re very excited,” OJUSD Board President Tina Shatswell said following the approval and signing of the contract at the meeting. “We’re very excited … it’s going to be a great year, great three years, great years moving forward.”

“We’ve got a lot of work to do. So, we’ll get after it. Thank you,” Mendonca said, following Shatswell’s comments.

As is customary, the June 12 meeting also featured review and adoption of a number of administrative and financial items including the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) for OHS, as well as Oakdale Charter and the 2023-2024 budget.

A concerned parent addressed the board during the public comment portion of the meeting in regards to a “male Oakdale High School Ag teacher,” and a formal complaint which was filed earlier in the month.

“The primary focus of my complaint is to have it documented that this teacher directed another student to throw a noose around my child’s neck during class,” the parent, identified as Autumn Skultety, stated. “The teacher provided the rope and had the entire class step outside to watch.”

According to the parent, her son was told he would have to do this (the noose roping) for extra credit. She noted her son was humiliated as well as marked by the rope on his neck. She stated she felt it was retaliatory.

Skultety gave a brief overview of the formal complaint offering background information to the board, adding that she had previously contacted the teacher herself to see where she might be able to find assignments which were due for her two sons, as well as extra credit opportunities.

“I have several areas of concern regarding this teacher; with just three minutes I can only touch on a few,” she said. “I would be happy to meet with any of you to discuss these further. I do not believe my son’s experience with this teacher is an isolated one.”

She additionally noted that prior to the formal complaint, she had contacted the teacher as a follow up to the extra credit question, as well as the campus administration and had not received a reply.

“I encourage the board to review ed code violations by this teacher as well as the code of ethics he’s clearly not following,” the parent continued. “I believe he should be held accountable for his wrongdoing.”

At the conclusion of Skultety’s comments, President Shatswell asked Craig Redman, Assistant Superintendent Human Resources, to follow up and was told he had started to on that day. Mendonca confirmed the complaint was received and acted on the prior Friday and a full investigation would be happening.

However, per district policy, no additional information will be released at this time.

“Any formal complaint against an employee is a confidential personnel matter while the District is investigating the allegations in the complaint,” the District noted in a statement released this week.

The board does not have a meeting in July, they will return to regular meetings beginning Monday, Aug. 14, 2023. The meeting will be hosted at the OJUSD Tech Center at 6:30 p.m.