Escondido Union School District’s (EUSD) attorney, Mr. Shinoff had his associate write six words on poster paper during his closing arguments.
Mr. Shinoff pointed to these six things and tried to relate them to what he said José Fragozo did to warrant EUSD taking out a permanent restraining order against him. However, the opposite was true. These six things perfectly illustrate what the school board majority and staff did to try to silence the one minority voice on the school board. In Mr. Shinoff’s opening statements he tried to link the restraining order request to the shootings in San Bernadino and school shootings. In his closing arguments he revisited the same references. We think he overplayed his hand. These tragedies obviously had nothing to do with the case of Trustee Fragozo. Mr Shinoff desperately tried to make a connection that simply was not there, and in the process exploited these tragic events for his clients’ potential gain.
Perhaps Dr. Ibarra is genuinely afraid of Mr. Fragozo, but it appears this fear has more to do with Dr. Ibarra himself rather than with any actions or threats by Mr. Fragozo. Dr. Ibarra once ran out of his EUSD office and told everyone in the building to get out because Mr. Fragozo had sent him a text message. He stated the message from Fragozo said he would be arriving at EUSD in ten minutes to pick up his information packet. It seems Dr. Ibarra believes when someone doesn’t agree with him, his life is at risk. At one point, Dr. Ibarra stated that he had “a vision” that Mr Fragozo was going to harm (kill) him. “A vision.” Not a stated threat, no weapons, just a vision. A statement made to the UT (12/4/15) Ibarra said, he became “so consumed with fear as I (Ibarra) had this vision of him (Trustee Fragozo) walking into my office and either shooting me or punching me.” José Fragozo simply wanted to pick up his information packet for the upcoming school board meeting in person since EUSD staff would not deliver it to him as they had delivered information packets to the every other board member. The judge ruled that the reaction of Ibarra was not the reaction of a “reasonable” person. Perhaps this is not the best job for Dr. Ibarra. We need a reasonable Superintendent.
We believe Dr. Ibarra’s hysteria and subsequent overreaction spread like a nasty flu bug to Leila Sackfield and then the rest of the staff. Overseeing a large school district necessarily means there will be some conflict and perhaps some heated discussions. The future of our community’s children is being decided. The stakes are extremely high.
We must look at the money spent here. While we have not seen the actual figures, it is likely they have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, to silence the single voice speaking out for the majority of the children and our public schools. We see this as a misappropriation of funds and, perhaps, a move to defund the entire public school district. EUSD’s board majority (all charter school advocates) and administration are failing our students, teachers and taxpayers. They must be held accountable for their actions. Perhaps if they refocus their energy away from José Fragozo they will be able to conjure up “a vision,” this time of an effective administration that meets the needs of the district’s children, supports our real public schools and listens to dissenting voices.
We close with two quotes. The first was used in closing arguments by Mr. Fragozo’s brilliant Attorney Laura Farris. “Suppression of speech as an effective police measure is an old, old, device, outlawed by our Constitution. Justice Douglas” This quote was reiterated by Judge Whitney when he delivered his decision. And the second quote is from Justice Brandeis.
“Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”