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					                                           C.olumbia Union                             ~ehool             Digtriet
                                                                      "Homo of Iho        490r~ II

                                      To:            Columbia Elementary School Parents and Community Members
                                      From:          Columbia Union School District Governing Board
                                      Date:          September 6, 2011
                                      Subject:       Memorandum Regarding Criminal Incident on the Columbia Elementary
~Iumbia Union !lehool Distri!!t                      School Campus
22540 Parrotts Flmy Road
~Iumbia. CA 95310
(209) 532-0202
                                      Everyone is now very well aware of the horrific crime committed in our After School
FAX (209) 533-770 9                   Program in May of 20 10 and the travesty perpetrated on one of our students. We are
                                      each personally grieved that a crime of this magnitude occurred on our campus and
                                      cannot tell you, in written words, how sorry we are that one of our student's safety was
~u po rinflmda nt
Dr. Joh n Pandlay
                                      so severely compromised. Our biggest concern continues to be the safety of our students
                                      and ensuring protection for all of our children. We accept the responsibility to ensure
                                      this does not happen again on our campus.
Prin!!ipal
Mr. ~d Palfray
                                      The Board and Administration have been actively addressing this tragedy for over a
                                      year and discussed many times the most appropriate forum to provide information to
Chiaf Businass Offi!!ial              our parents. The timely release of information has been limited because of the District's
Tami Hhiar                            need to comply with the law. However, throughout this entire ordeal the Board
                                      President and the School Principal have made a concerted effort to be visible and
Dim!!tor of M.O.T.
                                      available for any concerned parent or community member. In late June of2011 , the
Dan DaFranl!o                         Board President and Superintendent met with Parent's Club to hear their concerns and
                                      ask for input on the matter.
Administrativa Assistant
lisa Blaylock
                                      There is no "textbook" for handling something of this magnitude. We have become
                                      increasingly frustrated as we try to keep the delicate balance of providing information to
                                      our public, while still complying with the legal requirements for protecting the rights of
Distri!!t Offi!!a Assistant           our minor students and maintaining confidentiality on personnel matters. Since the
~har i Rago
                                      criminal proceedings have been completed, we have worked diligently to release
                                      information and are now authorized to provide you with the following pertinent facts .
!!CHOOl !!ITH!
                                      Please understand that because this is a personnel issue the Board is limited by law in
Columbia !] Q montary gchool
22540 ParroHs Forry Road              what it can release to the public. Here is what we are authorized to release to date:
C.o lumbia. CA 953 10
(209) 533-7700
FAX ( 209 ) 532~998
                                             •   The Administration and Board first learned of the allegation when Tuolumne
                                                 County Sheriffs arrived on campus the afternoon of May 10, 2010 and began
gprillgfillld Community Day !!chool
                                                 their investigation.
22540 ParroH!: Furry Road
C.olumbia. CA 953 10                         •   John Pendley voluntarily and immediately removed himself from any
(209) 532-0 20 2                                 involvement with this matter.
(209) 533-770 9
                                             •   The School Principal and the Board President became the points of contact
                                                 and continually worked through the District's counsel to ensure that the
BOARD. OF TRU!!UH!                               Board and Administration were in full compliance with all legal issues.
Jaff Castallo                                •   Brennan Pendley's resignation was accepted the next evening at the regular
laura Pholan                                     board meeting of May 11 , 2010. He was not in contact with students once
Clark ~agor!: t rom                              the Sheriff s investigation began.
Dr. Joffmy Tolhun:t
Dr. Jaff Wittman

                                                         "Thon and Now. u{!ollon{!o Bogin~ Horo"
       •   The Sheriffs department initiated the investigation the afternoon of May 10, 2010
           therefore the Board and Administration awaited the outcome from legal authorities.
       •   Each legal authority had full and complete cooperation from the District throughout
           the entire investigation.
       •   The matter concluded with a sentencing and incarceration on July 22, 2011.

There have been many articles written on this incident and we feel it necessary to clarify just a
few things for the record:

       •   John Pendley did not interview his son and was not a decision maker in the selection
           process.
       •   Brennan Pendley was not a regular classroom teacher. He worked as an After School
           Program Assistant (ASP).
       •   The district has a policy on the employment of relatives, which provides that an
           employee shall not be appointed to a position where a member ofhis/her immediate
           family maintains supervisory or evaluation responsibilities for the position. John
           Pendley never served as Brennan Pendley's immediate supervisor or evaluator.
       •   When the Board employed Brennan Pendley as an ASP Assistant in December of
           2009, he had neither an AA degree nor prior passage of the Paraprofessional
           examination. We were informed by the organization that oversees our ASP program
           that there is a 90-day grace period for an employee to pass the Paraprofessional exam.
           Brennnan took and passed the Paraprofessional examination within thirty work days
           of commencing his position as an ASP Assistant.
       •   The District offers Basic First Aid or CPR training to all staff at the beginning of each
           school year. Brennan was to receive this training at the beginning of the following
           school year. The Administration and the Board were aware of this future
           requirement.
       •   Other ASP employees have been granted this grace period for passing the
           Paraprofessional examination or completing the Basic First Aid and CPR training.
           The District did not modify or waive any of its requirements specifically for Brennan
           Pendley and he did not receive any preferential treatment.
       •   The Board did not lower the standards for the Aide job description. In addition to the
           ASP Site Coordinator, there are two other classifications. An Aide is the entry level
           position and requires a high school diploma. An Assistant requires an AA degree or a
           passing score on a Paraprofessional Exam. We have always understood those as the
           requirements for the ASP positions. However, as part of our review of the After
           School Program, the District's legal counsel discovered that several of the
           qualification requirements from the ASP Assistant position had been inadvertently
           copied into the ASP Aide job description. The Board action of August 9, 2011 merely
           corrected that clerical error and did not lower the standards.
       •   The District has fully complied with all Public Records Act requests in this matter in
           a timely manner.

The Board and Administration recognize a serious crime was committed on this campus. There
is always something to learn from even the smallest problem, and an event this repulsive clearly
highlights student safety as paramount. The Board and Administration have already implemented
action and will continue to do everything in our power to ensure a crime such as this will never
be committed again on our campus.
The Board has directed the Superintendent and staff to immediately address these three areas:

       •   review and revise, as necessary, all releWlnt policies;
       •   provide best practices information to all staff dealing with student relations and
           student safety;
       •   schedule additional specific training for the After School Program staff.


The following has ah'ead y occurred once staff returned on August 15, 2011.

                         th
       •   On August 16 , Administration provided the annual CPR and Basic First Aid
           training to all staff including the ASP staff.
                           th
       •   On August 19 , Administration provided training for the ASP staff that included
           all the items outlined below in the fifth bullet, reviewed policies including
           mandated reporter responsibilities, and provided information on appropriate
           interaction with students.
                           th
       •   On August 19 , information about the correction of the clerical error on the Aide
           job description was sent home to all parents. Further, the ASP Site Coordinator
           had a specific document explaining the matter for any parents requesting
           clarification.
                           th
       •   On August 25 , Administration provided personnel evaluation training for the new
           ASP Site Coordinator.
                           th
       •   On August 25 , the Superintendent's Council met to review all relevant policies
           and to seek further staff input for any recommended changes. In addition to policy
           review, the Administration also covered the following items:
                o The use of cell phones by staff and the appropriateness of providing cell
                    phone numbers to students or parents.
                o The use of social networking sites and other on-line venues by staff to
                    communicate with students and parents.
                o Appropriate interactions with students.
                o Common sense practices, such as, not being alone with a student in a
                    classroom.
                           th
       •   On August 30 Administration covered the evaluation form and the evaluation
           process with all ASP staff.
       •   On Friday, September 2nd the classified and certificated staff received the same
           training and information as listed above in the fifth bullet. This was our first early
           release day for staff meetings.
       •   Finally, we are working to identify programs we can introduce to our students that
           educate them on appropriate interaction with others.


This Board and Administration, individually and collectively, hopes you understand that we
are extremely upset about Brennan Pendley's criminal actions on this campus. We regret the
horrible impact this has had on one of our students and sincerely apologize to our parents and
this community. We want to assure you that we know student safety is one of our top
responsibilities.
For our community members who do not have children here, we want to share some information
about this district. Columbia Elementary School is and will remain a bright star of education in
Tuolumne County. Our school consistently maintains one of the highest API scores in the
county, by state standards, and has never been a Program Improvement school by federal
standards. In addition, we are well known as one of the most financially sound districts in
Tuolumne County Even while facing these unprecedented budget cuts over the last several years,
we have held on to most of our extra and co-curricular programs and have added several new
teachers. We are convinced we employ the brightest and the best as our teachers, staff, and
administrators.

Your board has collectively donated over 40 + years of service to the Columbia community and
its youth. We truly care about this school, our community, and its future. Specifically, over the
past 12 years we have helped Columbia become one of the top elementary schools in Tuolumne
County. This Board is dedicated to ensure students receive the highest quality education they
deserve in the safest of possible environments.

Please feel free to visit our campus and see education in action on a daily basis. Watch students
work in both of our computer labs; observe the classroom technology teachers use daily; listen to
our band play; hear our choir sing or drop by the library to see how students are challenged to
become life-long readers. Feel free to stroll down our new bus access road and see the area
prepared for our future playfields; check out the new bounce wall on our playground; or just
come enjoy our beautiful campus setting.

We are confident that together, we can learn and grow from this terrible incident.
The time has come for us all to move forward, to heal, and to return our complete focus on
student success. We ask you to help us with that endeavor. We welcome your comments in
writing or at our next board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, September 13,2011, at 6:00pm.

We thank you for your patience, for understanding our constraints, and appreciate you taking the
time to read this letter.

				
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