Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Opinion Piece By Randal South – November 12, 2020

On November 9, 2020, I submitted the following to the Del Norte County School Board:


Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

1)  I request the school board immediately terminate Superintendent of Public Instruction Jeff Harris, and Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction Thomas Kissinger.

2 ) The request for their termination is with cause, and for multiple violations of California Education Code 60605, and this district’s failure to allow the public to review curricula.

3) This complaint is timely pursuant to 5 CCR § 4630 because it is within one year of the date of the incidents.

4)  In the case of Superintendent Harris, the incidents involve an admitted failure of the district to collect syllabus for each class from the high school principal (see attached correspondence from Superintendent Harris), and ignoring this school board’s previous request to take steps to add stone masonry, well drilling, and structural moving to the high school construction program. An admitted failure to collect syllabus from the high school principal is synonymous with no review of curricula, and the district would be better off savings its money than wasting it on someone who doesn’t want to do their job.

5)  And in the case of Assistant Superintendent Thomas Kissinger, the incidents involve a failure to get the incoming high school principal Eckert to turn over syllabus for the high school senior English Class, and falsely misleading the public about the actual number of homeless students in the district, and the relationships of these alleged homeless students to the poor performance by the high school.  Between April 2020, and October 2020, Assistant Superintendent Thomas Kissinger blamed the high schools very poor academic performance on homelessness, and states there are 200 homeless high school students.  Correspondence from his two homeless coordinators Patty Rommel, and Pat Wilder supported this (see attached), but an official document from county counsel under an FOIA request demonstrates there are no unplaced foster care high school students in this county (see attached).  What this means is homelessness and poverty are not the primary reason Del Norte Co public school system, particularly its high school, has the worst academic standing in the state of California, and one of the worst internationally.

6) The school board is required to schedule a hearing on the requested action within 60 days of the first day of class pursuant to EDC 60119 because a major component of this complaint relates to English, Math, and Science education.  Since this complaint is being filed on 11-09-2020, the complainant will consider it timely if it is heard on or before 01-09-2021.   The actionable areas include no syllabus for high school English classes, and not reforming the high school construction program.   A failure to reform the high school construction program would still be actionable under EDC 60605 since a proper construction education would involve teaching students how to write a contract, for both licensed, and unlicensed contractors, and therefore fall under Language Arts.  And understanding legal concepts such as venue, jurisdiction, parties should all be incorporated into a proper high school construction program. A proper high school construction education should involve students taking their state contractor’s license as their final exam, and demonstration of a practical component as a minimum test to certify their ability.  This needs to be a four year program so that they can get licensed when they graduate from high school.

7)  Historically Bagley-Keene Act mandates that hearings regarding complaints such as this be open to the public.  Governor Newsom’s recent decision that the meetings do not necessarily have to be open to the public is probably a violation of this law since changes to the Act would have to be approved by the legislature, and they were not.


5)  In March of 2020, complainant Randal South approached the district, and requested Superintendent Harris expand the high school construction program so that it included stone masonry, well drilling, and structural moving.

6)  Shortly after making this request Superintendent Harris informed the complainant the the high schools Carpentry instructor did not want high school students younger than 16 in the program.  His comments suggest he is not going to interfere with the wishes of his subordinates.  A review of the most recently available high school construction syllabus suggest some problems (see attached).  The syllabus indicates that the courses are for Sophomore students and older, but then states that no one under the age of 16 years old.  Sophomore students are 15, and not 16.  So a reader would assume one of a couple of scenarios:  1)  poorly written, and not reviewed before publication, or 2)  Most students in the high school are a year behind their piers in other parts of the country.  The syllabus is poorly written with conflicting information that raises the question as to where is administration for correcting the problem.
7)  Complainant Randal South objected to Harris’s  position, and pointed out that you can get your private pilot airplane license by the age of 16, and historically this high school offered ground school courses to freshman high school students who were 14.
8)  After Superintendent Harris refused to cooperate, complainant Randal South approached the school board, and requested steps be taken to expand the high school construction program to include stone masonry, well drilling and structural moving, and the school board responded affirmatively by ordering Superintendent Harris to take steps to overhaul the program.
9)  Due to difficulty in getting Superintendent Harris to return phone calls, the complainant Randal South reached out to Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction Thomas Kissinger to see if he could make it happen.  During discussions complainant Randal South questioned Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction Kissinger why the high school had such a poor academic standing, and Kissinger responded due to homelessness and poverty.  He then emphasized that there were 200 homeless high school students, and that he had recently recruited a director of Homelessness by the name of Patty Wilder to address the problem.
10)  In response to these statements by the district, the complainant Randal South requested a number of specific demographics of the homeless population to explore the possibility of requesting funds to build or buy a building to house homeless students.  And during the summer of 2020, Assistant Superintendent Kissinger arranged for a Zoom conference between Randal South, Pat Wilder, Patty Rommel, and incoming high school principal Eckert to discuss homelessness, and producing a syllabus for the high school English Class.  Additionally Patty Rommel provided statistics allegedly from the local DSHS office that supported Thomas Kissinger’s position that homelessness was a problem, and principal Eckert agreed to provide a syllabus for the high school English class, but subsequently failed to deliver.  During these discussions principal Eckert made a number of unsolicited and off-handed comments regarding teaches in the matter, and emphasized don’t blame teachers”, but these comments don’t appear to be related to the requested information by the complainant Randal South.
11)  On several occasions, Complainant Randal South requested Assistant Superintendent Kissinger, and his support staff Rommel and Wilder to formalize these statistics and put them on signed letterhead so that they may be turned over to funding authorities for the purpose of acquiring funds to buy or build a building for homeless high school students, but Assistant Superintendent Kissinger and his support staff Rommel and Wilder failed to cooperate.
12)  As a result of this failure to cooperate, complainant Randal South reached out to the county’s freedom of information officer Kylie and requested the same information under an FOIA request. An official response from the county counsel confirmed there are “no unplaced homeless nor foster care students”.  This information was taken by the county counsel directly from the local DSHS office.  As a result of this information, it would appear that Assistant Superintendent Kissinger provided false and misleading information, and did not prove his case that homelessness and poverty were the primary reason for the high schools very low academic achievement.  This combined with Superintendent Harris’s admission that he doesn’t collect syllabus from the high school principal suggest a district that doesn’t review curricula, and also won’t allow the public to review it.  The only reasonable solution to this type of misconduct is termination of the district’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Assistant Superintendent of Public instruction.
13)  At this juncture of investigation no complaint is being made against any teachers, and it is too premature to investigate teacher performance until an overhaul of the district’s administrative staff is performed.  Teacher’s and school districts generally fall under the legal doctrine of Respondeat Superior which means “let the master answer”.  This is a legal doctrine that a party is responsible for (has vicarious liability for) acts of their agents. Harris and Kissinger are both responsible for the acts of their high school principal, and teachers.  And for this reason complainant Randal South is requesting the immediate, and unconditional dismissal of Superintendent Harris, and Thomas Kissinger.
14)  In support of this complaint are the following attached documents:

a)  a letter from county counsel in response to an FOIA request, and an email clarification of the meaning of that letter.
b)  a letter from Superintendent Harris confirming the district doesn’t collect syllabus from high school principals.
c)  a copy of the high school construction syllabus for the carpentry program.
d)  Correspondence from Kissinger’s Foster Care Coordinator in support of unplaced Foster Care Students.

Please notify me by email as to the date, time, and location of the hearing date that the school board will review this requested action, and any Zoom conference link if the school board is still having its meetings by video conferencing.  Respectfully submitted this 9th day of November 2020, Stanford, CA.


5 Attachments – NOTE BY EDITOR – Attachments will be added at a later time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *