A California grand jury report from when presumptive Douglas County superintendent John Ramirez Jr. was in charge of the Stockton Unified School District may reveal the direction Douglas County’s School District is headed.
“Due to the retirement and separation of numerous long-term employees, including the chief business officer in the last year, there has been a loss of institutional knowledge and experience in this department,” according to the 2021-22 San Joaquin County Grand Jury.
The report said their investigation found “multiple examples supporting the conclusion of poor business practices, inadequate duty of care by the administration and the board, and lack of transparency to the public and board, potentially risking the district’s solvency.”
According to the grand jury report, the Stockton district was facing deficits approaching $30 million a year.
“Expenses that would normally be paid with ongoing funding sources are instead being covered by one-time funds; many of these expenses will continue once the limited-time funding expires in 2024.”
Among those was the apparent manipulation of the bidding process to award an ultraviolet light contract to a firm that failed to meet requirements on multiple occasions.
During Tuesday’s interview, Ramirez Jr. said he overlooked including a recent DUI conviction on his application, just one of several oversights that raised public concerns over his ability to lead the district.
Ramirez was arrested with a preliminary breath test of .225 on Jan. 5, 2022, according to County of San Joaquin Superior Court records. He received three years probation on June 7, 2023, according to an article on a Stockton news site, Stocktonia.
He spent two days in jail before being released on his own recognizance.
On his application for the superintendent position with the Douglas County School District, under the question “Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense other than a minor traffic violation” he answered “no.”
When asked about why he marked no on the application, he said it was an oversight.
“I have to face the realities with the job that I do,” said Ramirez. “I’m not afraid to take on issues, I think being inclusive and the processes are very important, but sometimes tough decisions have to be made. I cannot deny that DUI, and I can’t say (that) it’s justified. I can own it and I will always own it.”
During public comment at the meeting Tuesday, We Deserve a Better Board Representative Marty Swisher and others urged the school board to postpone the hiring of a superintendent and reopen the application process.
“Your job is to find the best possible superintendent for the 5,100 students, their families and the 758 staff members you are to represent and support,” said Swisher. “In a district our size, this is a critical position. Each of you must consider all of the information available to you, analyze it carefully and unbiasedly and have high confidence in your decision. Thousands of people are counting on you and watching your actions.”
Scarselli Elementary school first-grade teacher Carrie Klubben said that the school board should be ashamed for considering and ranking someone with a DUI on their record.
“I am concerned about hiring someone who has a DUI,” Klubben said. “We have a young lady who I taught in kindergarten and went through our schools K-12, Fallon Montanucci. She was serving our country in the Air Force, she was home on leave and in April 2022 she was killed by a drunk driver.”
On closer inspection of Ramirez’ application, when prompted to answer questions regarding licensure, he claimed to have an “out of state certification” which will be transferred to Nevada and answered “yes” to holding a state license, but failed to indicate the type of license, a valid license number, expiration date, and whether it’s current.
From the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, it appears that he does not hold a valid certification or teaching credential and does not hold an administrator’s credential.
The Record-Courier has reached out to attorney Joey Gilbert about the issue.