By Nancy Gutierrez
"I don't understand what you guys are doing? What are you doing?," Farmersville resident Margie Reed asked Farmersville board members during public comment at the July 13 district board meeting.
Reed was addressing the boards decision to fire its newest employee, Superintendent Carlos Vega, who had been on the job for two weeks. The board held a special closed session meeting prior to the regular session. The special meeting agenda contained an item to discipline, dismiss or release an employee as well as an item to approve hiring a principal, vice principal, custodian and superintendent. Unbeknownst to Vega, he was the employee being dismissed. On the original regular session agenda were items to approve the superintendent's contract and an agenda item request by Vega to terminate the contract with Burke, Williams and Sorenson the Los Angeles based law firm hired by the board in December.
After being fired Vega addressed the board during public comment saying they were doing a disservice to the community of Farmersville. The board voted to hire Vega on June 30 despite not having valid credentials. Vega was in the process of having his credentials renewed. Board members waived the credential requirements to hire Vega who Macareno himself said was, "the most qualified person for the job." It is speculated that Vega's recommendation to change legal counsel for the district and concerns over a new principal for Farmersville High School were the reason for his dismissal. Macareno said there were issues regarding the responsibilities of the superintendent and the board.
"I have issues when a board member asks to put something on the agenda and it is taken in advisement," he said. "I had a hard time making a special meeting. We weren't agreeing on the direction of the district and a majority of the board felt it would be best to terminate him as an employee."
Macareno would not elaborate on whether or not the district would have to financially compensate Vega but did say that there was no contract between Vega and the school district.
In the closed session the board hired Sadie Nishitani as Vega's replacement. Nishitani was one of the candidates vieing for the superintendents spot during the June 30 meeting. Though she initially lost out to Vega the board apparently felt she was the next best qualified person for the position.
Nishitani was previously the deputy superintendent at the Coalinga-Huron Unified School District and Superintendent at McFarland Unified School District.
"She is big on grant writing, curriculum and has experience with migrant education," Macareno said in a phone interview. "She is very capable of managing our district."
Farmersville residents have also been curious as to how much money has been spent on legal fees. The district has had counsel present at many of the meetings. Macareno said the $100,000 figure that has been speculated is, "ridiculous." He said the district has paid the lawfirm $26,000.
"They have done a lot of pro-bono work," said Macareno. "In a normal school year the fees are low. But we've had major changes that have caused us to talk."