Cambria teachers declare "no confidence" in district superintendent

Sep 7, 2018

In San Luis Obispo County, 97 percent of Cambria’s Coast Unified School District teachers have voted “no confidence” in the district’s superintendent. The teachers cast their vote earlier in the summer, and delivered it to the school board last month. The Coast Unified board of trustees held a special meeting Thursday night to evaluate the superintendent’s performance, and to consider whether to continue her employment. But first, they heard from a packed room of teachers, staff and parents.

The Cambria Unified School District is comprised of four schools—an elementary, middle and high school, and a continuation school. Dr. Vicki Schumacher took the reins of Cambria’s schools in 2014. Last year, teachers’ agitations that their voices weren’t being heard began to bubble over.

“For months—and for the last couple of years—we have been told our input was valuable,” Darci Wetzl said at Thursday’s meeting. “And the staff and stakeholders, we have stood here and sat in meetings and begged and pleaded for what we know is best for our schools and our programs. And we’ve been ignored."

A June 14, 2018 letter to the CUSD board from district teachers citing "No Confidence" in Superintendent Schumacher, p. 1.
Credit Coast Unified District Teachers

Wetzl teaches at Coast Union High School. Her comments echoed other speakers who said Dr. Schumacher’s leadership has been ineffective. Outside after the meeting, Wetzl said her school has not received the additional classes and teachers it needs. And in some cases, teachers have been removed.

“For example, our AP science teacher who teaches AP Bio and has a master’s degree and teaches all upper level has been sent this year to teach science to first graders,” Wetzl said.

Wetzl said these kinds of placements don’t make sense. In a letter to the school board, the teachers say Dr. Schumacher does not work collaboratively with staff and has created an environment of distrust. The letter also describes program cuts for the student population where English is a second language.

Marisol Poteete is the districts’ translator.

“We are 75 percent Hispanic,” Poteete said. “A lot of programs have been cut and you know, we need the basics. The Hispanic community in this area is pretty much the bread and butter.”

The June 14, 2018 letter to the CUSD board from the district teachers citing "No Confidence" in Superintendent Schumacher, p. 2.
Credit Coast Unified District Teachers

Only one teacher in the district disagreed with the long list of allegations against Dr. Schumacher, which also includes mismanagement of district funds.

KCBX News reached out to Dr. Schumacher, but she did not return our calls. She was also not present for the public comment portion of Thursday’s meeting.

Joe Sassaman, who is president of the Cambria Coast Teachers’ Association, said Dr. Schumacher’s actions have led to a hemorrhaging of the districts teachers and student population.

“We’re seeing a lot of unhappy people,” Sassaman said. “Last year we had [two managers quit] and one got let go. And then we also saw a teacher leave, because they are not happy with the direction. We’re seeing declining enrollment.

During the meeting, Sassaman summed up Dr. Schumacher’s role in the district.

“I liken it all to a coach,” Sassaman said. "We’re losing here, guys.”

At Thursday night’s meeting, the school board said it has heard the concerns of the community, but is unlikely to take an immediate action regarding Dr. Schumacher’s employment.

Coast Unified School District Board President Samuel Shalhoub said in an email he can't discuss details of Thursday's closed session performance evaluation of Dr. Schumacher except that, "the board will provide an oral statement to the public upon completion of the superintendent's evaluation period, likely happening during a regular session board meeting currently scheduled for October 4, 2018."

KCBX News wants to hear from you. If there is an issue in your school district that you would like us to look into, submit your question below. We’ll look into it and report back to you. You can always reach us at news@kcbx.org.