Marilyn Martinez’s article on Superintendent McKinley Nash [“Big Stick on Campus,” June 19–25] is one-sided, full of inaccuracies, and reflects flawed investigation by your reporter. Nearly all the quotes are from employees who have sued the district and obviously want to put their “spin” on the facts. Let the truth be told.
The claims of Marshall Abbage, high school administrator, regarding Dr. Nash’s alleged conduct are false. As the Weekly article mentions, Mr. Abbage, who tried to get another employee to lie about the event, is facing a trial for suborning perjury. A judge found sufficient evidence after a preliminary hearing to compel his trial. Similarly, there is nothing to Kenneth Crowe’s claim that Dr. Nash conducted a “campaign to defame” him. Mr. Crowe’s lawsuit was found defective in court.
I resent Ms. Martinez’s aspersions on the qualifications of Inglewood High School’s new principal, Dr. Lowell Winston, who had an exemplary record in two of our schools and as assistant superintendent before he went to Memphis. The board was, in fact, aware of the allegations against him, but also knew firsthand of his abilities. Dr. Winston was personally blameless, and had strong support from parents and other members of that Memphis community. Shame on you for tarnishing his reputation.
Ms. Martinez mistakenly claims a recall petition was filed complaining of the district’s overreliance on substitute teachers. There is nothing in the petition about substitute teachers. References in the article to the district’s finances are also wrong. There were and are no potential deficits in our ’97-’98 or ’98-’99 budgets. We have maintained more than the required reserves for the past three years. Our employees received well-deserved salary increases, which the county could not have approved if there had been any hint of a deficit.
Ms. Martinez has also defamed a minister who pastors one of the oldest churches in Inglewood. Bishop Wayne Hawkins was hired by our adult school based on his qualifications, not his support for Dr. Nash. As for the issue of a waiver for use of our schools by the Jacob’s Ladder Community Fellowship, two other churches received the same treatment during that time. The superintendent had full authority to issue permits for use of our campuses and in no way violated policy.
It is also untrue that Nash recommended we end the Inglewood Management Agreement to expedite reassignments. I had, in fact, called for an end to that agreement two years before. California law gives the board full authority to reassign all ad ministrators and teachers. Nearly all of our administrators accept such reassignments.
As for Hollis Dillon, it is a violation of state law for any employee to use district resources or time to engage in political campaigns. Mr. Dillon used our computer to prepare campaign literature. Dr. Nash acted appropriately in calling in the police to assist in determining the violation, and in suspending him. Your article also fails to mention that, prior to his demotion, the three school-board members whose campaigns he was assisting reinstated him and took action against Nash.
Also incorrect is your statement that Nash insinuated at a board meeting that Kermet Dixson was involved in the Andrew Truesdale scam. Ms. Dixson alleges in her lawsuit that it was, in fact, board members who did so, and that their suspicions were voiced in newspaper accounts. In the Weekly article, Ms. Dixson is quoted as saying that she had oversight over financial matters, and that anyone who needed something “had to come through me.” Would that also include Mr. Truesdale, who is now serving a prison sentence for stealing more than $430,000?
It is regrettable that your newspaper has engaged in a media lynching of the most popular school superintendent Inglewood has ever had, a man who had to clear up several pre-existing messes and therefore had to take a firm hand with employees. Our public demands that he — and the board members — do so. In the end, I believe that justice will prevail.
—Thomasina M. Reed, Esq.
Inglewood School Board
MARILYN MARTINEZ REPLIES:
Ms. Reed is correct in noting that the recall petitions filed against three of Inglewood’s school-board members by parents did not mention substitute teachers. The petitions cite the district’s dependence on first-year teachers using emergency teaching credentials to staff their classrooms. However, the Los Angeles County Board of Education did issue a written warning to the Inglewood school district that their proposed 1997-98 budget would cause a deficit in their 1998-99 budget. According to Richard Bertain, the district’s assistant superintendent of business, the district will correct the projected deficiency by increasing income and reducing expenditures. Also, according to Melanie Slaton, Kermet Dixson’s lawyer, the settled lawsuit also contended that Nash’s comments during a board meeting defamed the former school-district employee.
I would like to applaud Marilyn Martinez for her powerful article about Inglewood School District Superintendent Dr. McKinley Nash. Ms. Martinez interviewed me and other frustrated parents of Inglewood. My purpose in giving the interview was to let the public — in particular, the Inglewood community — know how our children are not receiving a proper education, and how the school board and the superintendent are failing our expectations. Thanks to the article, I now know why. It’s because we have a superintendent who is so busy destroying enemies that he doesn’t have time to take care of the matter of meeting our children’s needs.
It is time for Dr. Nash to forget about ruining his enemies and start putting the children first. I refuse to have my children attend another school district or a private school when my husband and I are already paying city school taxes. It’s time for parents to come together and let the board know that we are tired of the superintendent’s games, and that our children do not have time to wait for him to decide when he is going to make his next move.
—Mrs. Carolyn Johnson
Inglewood Parent Coalition
MORE FORBIDDEN WORDS
I just wanted to ask Mr. Ernest Hardy what he was thinking by using the word “Negress” in his Reverb article about Rachid [“Behind the Mask,” June 26–July 2]. We are fast approaching the millennium, and it was disconcerting — to put it mildly — to see a black woman described thus. Since I am a black woman, it was especially affronting.
Perhaps I am hopelessly out of touch, unaware that we are resurrecting these old forms of speech and frames of reference. Mr. Hardy, please enlighten me!
Now that Ernest Hardy has apologized to anyone who was offended by his review of Leather Jacket Love Story [Letters, June 12–18], when is the Weekly going to remove the offending language from the capsule? It would seem to be the correct gesture to the gay community, for which your paper has always shown support. And for the record: Mr. Hardy was absolutely wrong in doubting that the word “faggot” would have become an issue if the movie had received a favorable review. Many people, gay and straight, would still have thought his choice of words was trashy and inappropriate.
In last week’s City Limits column, the Research Department introduced an error for which we apologize. Some 20 percent, not 10 percent, of the Duesenbergs shown at the Petersen Automotive Museum were owned by people of color.