Alum Rock Union School District extends superintendent’s contract

It’s been a tumultuous year for the Alum Rock Union School District (ARUSD), following months of scandals stemming from a long history of mismanagement and financial troubles.

But just last week, the school board voted to extend Superintendent Hilaria Bauer’s contract for an additional three years, hoping her leadership will bring transparency and better ethical practices to the embattled school district.

“I would like to thank the Board of Trustees for their unwavering support of my leadership,” said Bauer. “By working together, I am confident that we will be able to provide the children of our community with the necessary tools to make all of their dreams a reality.”

Since joining the school district in 2014, Bauer has been “instrumental” in bringing stability to the school district through “valuable” programs such as Santa Clara County’s first dual-immersion pre-school, according to district officials. Some of her colleagues on the Board of Trustees believe her leadership has reshaped the school district’s image and helped establish better standards, according to Vice President Ernesto Bejarano.

“In the past year, we’ve made great strides in cleaning up some of the challenges that we’ve had and we really want to keep that momentum going,” Bejarano told San José Spotlight. “Dr. Bauer can provide the stability, the transparency and the consistency that we need to continue to move our district in the right direction.”

The board was heavily scrutinized in an audit this past May over dealings with construction contractor Del Terra. State officials said the school district violated state law, over a conflict of interest with the construction contracts when school board officials decided to hire the company in both program management and construction management roles. The decision resulted in Del Terra managing and overseeing its own practices, which ran rampant with corrupt workplace dealings, millions of misspent funds and a lack of oversight.

The board’s dysfunction exploded last year after Bauer filed a restraining order against former trustee Khanh Tran for allegedly verbally harassing her. Tran, who was voted out last year, allegedly berated Bauer during a private meeting and threatened physical violence.

But now, Bauer’s work with local community organizations, parents and leaders has helped repair the school board’s relationship with those vital community partners, said Bejarano. He hopes she’ll continue to help “clean up” some of the challenges the board has faced.

“A big part of what we’re trying to do as trustees and as a district is really partner with our community and partner with our families,” added Bejarano. “Certainly, Dr Bauer has really put herself in a position of partnership with a number of agencies and organizations in the community, but also parents and families and so we really didn’t want to lose those relationships that she has established.”

Bauer’s contract as superintendent has been extended for another three years until June 30, 2023.

Contact Nadia Lopez at nadia@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @n_llopez on Twitter.

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