Modesto High campus supervisor challenges firing

naustin@modbee.comNovember 13, 2013 

— With a 6-0 vote, Modesto City Schools Board finalized its firing of a longtime Modesto High campus supervisor, but the legal wheels were already rolling to try to reverse the decision.

A grievance hearing on the firing of Jackie Munn will be held Friday with Superintendent Pam Able, a meeting set up a week or more ago, said union President Aaron Castro. Castro leads the Modesto chapter of the California School Employees Association, which is representing Munn.

Castro said Munn “respectfully declined” to speak to The Modesto Bee on Wednesday, pending the outcome of her case. CSEA Labor Representative Melody Honeychurch said the union expects to appeal the decision handed down by the board about 9 p.m. Tuesday. Appeals for school district employees are heard in Superior Court.

Besides some technical missteps she felt the district made, Honeychurch said Munn received more severe treatment than other employees. Another campus supervisor accused in the past year of being “overly aggressive” was transferred to another campus, not dismissed, she said, adding the union believes Munn’s outspoken criticism of administrative raises is behind her firing.

Honeychurch said the support staff contract calls for progressive discipline, not a firing on the first offense, as well as regular training in their duties to help with campus safety. “They’ve had no training since the ’90s. We’re in a different era. There are violent kids. A lot has changed,” Honeychurch said.

The board’s initial Oct. 22 vote to terminate was based on grounds of neglect of duty, insubordination and violation of a statute. The district later released a 209-page transcript of the hearing, held before an administrative law judge. That vote was also 6-0. Steve Grenbeaux has recused himself from the case because of the close association his family had with Munn while his daughter was a student at Modesto High.

The transcript describes a March 18 incident following a student fight. One of the students is crying that she was attacked when Munn arrives. A boy, at first combative, has been restrained on the floor by two male campus supervisors and is talking with the assistant principal. Munn approaches the boy, straddles his back and pushes his head to the floor, according to several accounts in the transcript. (The document is available at this link, but readers should be aware that potentially objectionable language appears repeatedly.)

Munn was put on paid leave following the incident.

Modesto High alumni and teachers rallied to Munn’s support this year, with a petition on change.org drawing more than 166,000 signatures from around the nation. A rally was held in front of Modesto High on Oct. 31, with students cheering her on and numerous testimonials from students she helped through hard times over her 19 years at the school. Munn’s generosity was widely acknowledged, from buying low-income kids a senior sweat shirt to collecting for student funerals.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at naustin@modbee.com or (209) 578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.

Modesto Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service