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Home / Larry Torres

PUSD v. United Teachers of Pasadena

Superintendent Brian McDonald is once again under fire, this time from United Teachers of Pasadena. – Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News

Board of Education voices support of Superintendent McDonald despite the Union’s vote of “no confidence”

By Terry Miller

Larry Torres, president of Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Board of Education sent the following to area media Friday following a United Teachers of Pasadena (UTP) letter to Torres declaring a vote of “no confidence” in PUSD Superintendent, Brian McDonald. The letter dated Sept. 27, was signed by President Alvin Nash and 11 other members of the UPT.

Torres stated, “We are disappointed that the teacher union’s leadership has decided to personalize their labor contract dispute with the district by taking a vote of no confidence in our superintendent. We should be pulling together instead of pulling ourselves further apart.

The letter from UTP states, in part:

The position of [the] superintendent calls for a superlative ‘instructional leader.’ However, in Superintendent McDonald’s tenure, the morale of educators has deteriorated remarkably. Presently, the District is unable to provide competitive salaries. However, to add insult to injury, the conditions of teaching and learning continue to demand that teachers do more with less. The result is more and more teachers are feeling overworked and under-appreciated. Further insult to injury comes from the District’s denial of providing health benefits to the UTP bargaining unit that are enjoyed by other employee groups. UTP believes that all employee groups should be treated fairly in this regard.

“The notion of ‘bad fit’ is one we are all familiar with. In the case of Brian McDonald, he is a ‘bad fit’ for Pasadena.”

Torres responded in a statement that reads, in part, as follows

 “I have every confidence in Superintendent Brian McDonald’s ability to lead us forward to continued success.

“Dr. McDonald is a strong visionary leader whose ability to build collaboration and partnerships has led to unprecedented support for our students and schools.

“Courageous leadership is absolutely crucial as we navigate through these volatile and uncertain times. We need someone who can lead us through really tough decisions, make untenable choices, and cope with rapid change. It takes someone with a steady vision, a pragmatic common sense approach to problem-solving, and a relentless determination to do the right thing. We have that in our superintendent Brian McDonald.

“These are very difficult times for our schools with declining enrollment and fiscal challenges. It is imperative that all stakeholders, including the union, find meaningful ways to collaborate and find common ground as we deal with these shared problems. To attack our superintendent is counterproductive.

“We have already made great progress in addressing our budget issues, and are confident that under Dr. McDonald’s leadership, Pasadena Unified will emerge from our fiscal challenges stronger, more accountable, and better positioned to keep offering the vibrant academic programs that are preparing our students for success.

“Changing the messenger will not change the message we have to deliver. We must choose among demanding priorities that are equally important. Tough decisions need to be made that will not please everyone. We need leadership that is prepared to make decisions that may be unpopular with some audiences, including the leadership of the teachers union.

“I disagree with the UTP leadership’s characterization of Superintendent McDonald. He may not fit the mold that the union wants, but he certainly is making a valiant effort to bring stability to our district. Now is not the time to further destabilize our schools by forcing an unwarranted leadership change while we are in the midst of implementing a Fiscal Stabilization Plan, and while Pasadena voters are considering Measure J, which would support our schools.

“Now more than ever, we need to work together to move our district forward so that our students can continue to excel. Now is the time to work together on figuring out solutions that unlock our resources and tap the creativity of this great community.

“We will continue to reach out and look for ways to partner with United Teachers of Pasadena.”

Pasadena Independent’s repeated calls to UTP for comment were not immediately returned.

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