BRENTWOOD -- Two days after Brentwood schools Superintendent Merrill Grant was placed on paid administrative leave, the school board president said Sunday the district is seeking "new leadership" and will decide whether to dismiss Grant at Wednesday night's board meeting as well as select an interim leader.
Grant's leave and disciplinary actions against three unnamed Brentwood Union School District employees were disclosed following a lengthy closed session board meeting late Friday. The board's actions came after a public outcry from the Brentwood special needs community and others over the district's handling of teacher Dina Holder, who was convicted of kicking a 5-year-old student with autism in 2010 but allowed to continue teaching.
"We have decided to seek new leadership. That was our reason for this suspension," board President Carlos Sanabria said Sunday of Grant, who joined the district in July 2007.
"It really is an effort to increase effective communication with our staff, with our parents and with our community. It is something that we found lacking in recent times, and I think that was something that allowed this incident to snowball out of proportion," he added. "It is something that we have to work on as a board and as a district. We have a commitment to all of the children of Brentwood."
Sanabria said the board would decide whether to terminate Grant's employment on Wednesday night. The open session of that meeting will begin at 8 p.m., preceded by a closed session at the District Service Center, 255 Guthrie Lane.
Grant could not be reached for comment Sunday.
"If they decide to replace Grant permanently, this is a step in the right direction," parent Christina Bell said Sunday. "A new, qualified superintendent can make effective personnel decisions in regards to the other employees involved."
There are a few local candidates for the interim superintendent position with experience and talent, Sanabria said. He added that district staff would handle the superintendent's duties early this week before an interim is selected.
Grant continues to be paid while on leave per his contract, Sanabria noted Sunday.
Citing it as a personnel action, Sanabria would not disclose which three employees were the subject of disciplinary action and what that discipline involved. He said they are still employed with the district.
Grant and the district have been heavily criticized since Holder's case came to light in this newspaper. The district sent Holder to another school after she was convicted, and at least 11 employees failed to perform their legally mandated duties to report any suspicion of child abuse to authorities after either witnessing or learning of the 2010 kicking episode.
The parents of the 5-year-old boy with autism sued the district, settling earlier this year for $950,000 and the removal of Holder, 52, from the classroom and her retirement at the end of the school year. As of Thursday, she had been working a desk job with the district.
Holder's three teaching credentials were revoked Thursday, according to California's Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
Grant joined the district in 2007 and moved with his wife and children from Penn Valley. He had served as the superintendent of the Williams Unified School District in Williams for three years during a period of growth and previously was the superintendent of the Ready Springs district in Penn Valley.
He also worked as an elementary and high school principal and taught middle school.
Grant replaced former Brentwood Superintendent Doug Adams, who led the district through unprecedented growth over 15 years. At the time of Grant's hire, Sanabria had said that he was "impressed by his (Grant's) integrity, his collaborative decision-making style, his work ethic and his successes."
Contact Paula King at 925-779-7174 or firstname.lastname@example.org.