Principal accused of verbal abuse

By Nancy Gutierrez

In a letter regarding unprofessional conduct by an administrator at John J. Cairns Continuation High School, attorneys for the Lindsay Teachers Association and Ruth Kimball, an employee of the district, accused acting principal David Reisinger of, "causing a hostile and unsafe working and learning environment."

The letter was mailed to Lindsay Unified School District board members at the end of October. At the following board meeting held Nov. 10 LTA President Carol Jones addressed the board about the allegations. A written document from the LTA outlined three previous meetings between Superintendent Janet Kliegl and Assistant Superintendent Andrew Bukosky regarding the issue. The letter stated that, "the Board of Education needs to know that the LTA and the District have met on this issue and that unfortunately it continues to be an ongoing problem."

Jones said that though there are many good administrators in LUSD there are some that can improve skills when dealing with teachers.

"We are concerned that we have a couple of school sites with administration that use some tactics that are not positive and that it's been going on for a while," Jones said.

LTA's main issue is with the treatment of Kimball by Reisinger. In the letter documenting conduct at JJ Carins the list of allegations include negative statements made by Reisinger about Kimball and other staff members.

The letter reports incidents back to Aug. 25 when Reisinger allegedly called one teacher, "a liar," and stated he wanted to, "Knock her (expletive) face in." The letter accuses Reisinger of referring to students as, "(expletive), stupid, wetback scum," and alleges that Reisinger called Kimball a, "(expletive) bitch," in front of staff.

"I did not make many of these statements I'm accused of saying," Reisinger said. "And many of the other statements are taken out of context."

He added that he had never heard complaints about his conduct until Nov. 6 when he received a copy of the letter.

"If someone thinks I've been acting inappropriately since August then I should have been approached earlier," Reisinger said.

The LTA document presented at the board meeting by Jones stated that in an Oct. 30 meeting with Kliegl, Bukosky, Jones and LTA Co-president Shirley Buettner, "the majority of the conversation surrounded the situation at J.J. Cairns. Superintendent Kliegl reported to us that she had spoken to Mr. Reisinger about his language and communication with his staff and students."

Kliegl said the first she had heard about the specific statements was on Nov. 5 when she received the letter. She said that in the meetings documented by the LTA no specifics had been given about actual statements made by Reisinger.

"I don't want anyone talked to like that and I encourage people to let administration know if that is happening," she said.

Kliegl conducted interviews with other teachers, staff members and probation officers at the continuation school and said no one confirmed the allegations made against Reisinger. She added that one teacher, named in the conduct letter, who reported one of the incidents, said he had in fact not heard the statement written in the letter.

Jones agreed that LUSD administration had met with other teachers who reported misconduct by Reisinger, but said the meetings did not focus on Reisinger's actions.

"In some of the meetings they basically reprimanded the other teacher for reporting the incidences," Jones said.

Representative for the California Teachers Association, Phil Brown, said if the LUSD board does not take action on the matter the CTA will make their own formal investigation and take their findings to the credentialing commission.

"This behavior constitutes harassment and threats," Brown said. "We're going to look at all possible options. We're doing our homework and hopefully the district does theirs."

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