The Delano Union School District has taken its stiffest stand yet in reaction to school board member Ramon Cardenas whose behavior in district matters and attendance have put him in a bad light with the other four district trustees.
In recent months, his attendance at board meetings has been irregular, and if he missed three meetings in a row, he would be expelled from the board according to district rules. He escaped the third straight “miss” on Monday, Oct. 1, when he called ahead to say that he was sick.
In his absence, the board passed a resolution and accepted the report and recommendations of an ad hoc committee of two board members regarding the complaints of district employees and resolving to censure Cardenas for “violating board bylaws 9005, 2010 and 9200.”
An outside investigator was called in to examine the complaints. The investigator supported two of the findings and dismissed a third. When the investigator sought to meet with Cardenas to hear his side, the investigator said the board member cancelled out and declined to meet on three possible occasions offered as meeting times and dates.
The investigator found that Cardenas’ behavior toward one district employee appeared to have violated board bylaw 9005 regarding governance standards, which requires a board member to act with dignity and understand the implications of demeanor and behavior; understand the distinctions between board and staff roles and refrain from performing management functions that are the responsibility of the superintendent and staff; understand that authority rests with the board as a whole and not with individuals; and govern in a dignified and professional manner, treating everyone with civility and respect.
In board resolution No. 108-18, which was to be delivered to Cardenas by Oct. 5, the other four board members declared in instructions that Cardenas “has demonstrated a need for and is therefore strongly encouraged to enroll in an anger management course and provide proof of completion of such course to the board by no later than Nov. 1; Cardenas has demonstrated a need for and is therefore strongly encouraged to enroll in civility training and provide proof of completion of such course to the board no later than Nov. 1; and Cardenas is directed to enroll in the California School Boards Associations Masters in Governance program and provide proof of completion of the entire program to the board no later than Nov. 1, 2018.” Cardenas reportedly did not comply with a similar resolution served hm in the fall of 2017.
The board is expected to take up the matter again at its Monday, Nov. 5, regular meeting in the district board room at 5 p.m.
Cardenas, who has served on the board for more than 20 years, joins incumbents Dr. Efrain Rodriguez and Hubert Rabanal and challengers Irene Martinez and Andrew Mendoza in the race to fill the three seats up for a vote Nov. 6.
Delano High held its annual homecoming celebration Friday, Sept. 28, the night the Tigers took a 56-0 belting from Tulare Western, at last report the No. 6 ranked team in the central section
East Yosemite League rules call for homecoming to be a team’s first league home game. That made the Tigers have to select Western as the homecoming opponent. The only other alternative was to choose a non-league game, but Delano’s only home non-league contest was with South on August 24, and Delano lost that game 60-6.
At homecoming, I am able to see many past cheerleaders and others whom I have known in the classroom while subbing or on the field when reporting on athletic contests.
From alumni who graduated several years ago I always hear the complaint that students are not as spirited as in the past.
I always respond that students these days have other things to do and that the events that made past homecomings unique are no longer allowed.
When I sent some questions to Delano High Principal Rene Ayon, he wanted me to meet along with Athletic Director Albino Duran.
Ayon said that homecoming downtown parades and thus parades into the stadium were stopped some years before he even became the DHS principal. There was one year—2011—the school’s Centennial year—that the parade was renewed for a single year. Having three high schools in town since the early 2000s has also meant that one having a parade would prompt the other also to want a parade, and so on.
If there was a downtown parade as in 2011 and earlier years, it would be a scheduling problem to release students from school. If students were released to view the parade, there would also be a major liability issue — monitoring the students at and before and after the parade.
While floats and royalty used to enter the Gene Beck Stadium by vehicles pulling them, Ayon said that the grounds staff is not even allowed to drive on the grass anymore, “and that’s why we have the best grass field in the valley, something students and staff take great pride in,” said Ayon and Duran. Delano is one of the few schools than does not have a track inside its stadium.
More than 20 years ago when fencing was put at the stadium’s south end, the gates were such a width that trailers could not navigate the turn into the stadium. And trailers became scarce, and chaperones for float building became even scarcer.
It used to be there was a bonfire, but that event really did not draw a big student following. One year some 30 years ago when students brought contributions of wood, one student brought lots of grape boxes, but it was learned that he did so without permission, and the Girls Athletic Association — no longer a student group — made a lineup to remove the boxes and return them to the grower. Another problem that came along in the 80s was that someone threw several bullets — maybe a box — into the fire, and during the bonfire the bullets shot out from the pile of lit wood.
In 2017, a night rally was held, but administration reported that some students were “not doing what they were supposed to do.” “We had some difficulty getting enough chaperones to have adequate supervision,” said Ayon, “and there was some gym floor damage due to equipment brought into the gym by the DJ and liquid coming out of the glow sticks.”
Fireworks have become too expensive to have for the varsity halftime, and because of the drought and the danger of ashes falling on neighborhood homes and concerns of the fire department, that activity also stopped.
When cheerleaders wanted to have a fire truck take them up to the stadium entrance, that was deemed too dangerous because it would damage trees at the stadium’s south end and it would be difficult for the truck to enter with “hundreds of people near the concessions,” the principal said.
The two-session auditorium rally was pricey, Ayon said, “but the rally did invest in more students because not all go to the games, even to homecoming.”
As for a grand marshal — Delano High has not had one for two or three years. Ayon said that in the past that several people were asked and would not accept.
“We still think we have the best school culture here,” he said, but he was open to other ideas if students or others came up with them.
Besides the usual band and cheerleader performances and crowning of royalty, the auditorium assembly in two shifts made up the Homecoming Week. Student Executive and Senate members did a superb job of decorating the school outside and in hallways and playing music before school and noon during the week, but it wasn’t the same as in “the good ole days.”
The Class of 1998 did have a group of class members in a special section at the game.
Delano’s Class of 1968 will celebrate its 50-year reunion Oct. 19-20, including attendance of about 50 class members at Delano’s final home football game and the following day, a Saturday, a tour of the campus and the science garden planned.
On the “good” side, Ayon said that Delano High — along with the entire district — is doing an exceptional job in regard to CAASPP testing. In testing of all junior students last spring, the Delano High School ranked first in the English Language Arts testing category, averaging 56.16, and second by fewer than two points in math to Cesar Chavez High.
Among neighboring districts, DHS topped all district sites with more than 67 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards. District scores on average were higher than the Kern High School District, and districts of McFarland, Wasco, Tulare and Porterville.