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Bautista Probe Method Criticized

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Statements criticar of the methoas used to investígate Mildred Bautista's credentials have been issued by School Board Trustee Henry Johnson and Lawrence Stewart, president-elect of the Ann Arbor Education Association. Johnson said, "It must be stated candidly that the board and the superintendent made errors in judgment which compounded an already difficult situation. Such items," he said, "were an assumption that a trip was needed to fmd facts and that Supt. R. Bruce McPherson feit it necessary to take the principal figure in the incident on the trip." Johnson said his statement, which he stressed represented his opinión as an individual board member, was an attempt to clarify some of the issues and honestly inform the public of errors in judgment as he saw them and which he said occurred during the period between May 17 (the date of the Ann Arbor News charge) and May 26 (the date of the Board's acceptance of Miss Bautistas resignation). Rumors were abounding during that time which made the process of seeking facts difficult," he said. A resignation from Miss Bautista, assistant to the superintendent and secretary to the Board of Education, was accepted by trustees at a meeüng Friday McPherson's investigation in W iñdicated tiïat "the credentfiffs of Miss Bautista are indeed inaccurate on mny counts." McPherson said he requested Miss Bautista's resignaiion. McPherson also said that he will ask that all personnel records be reviewed to make certain that a routine credentials check has been completed for employés of the school district. Johnson said "It should be made unequivocally clear that the board did riot authorize Miss Bautista and Deputy Supt. Philip Mcllnay on the superintendent' s recent trip. In the same context the board erred in judgment that a trip or trips was necessary to investígate the discrepéncies in the credentials of Miss Bautista. ;■ . .','., "In the same vein the superintendent erred in two respects. First in taking Miss Bautista and Mcllnay with him and secondly in financing the expenses of said parties." "The board had, however, informally agreed with Dr. McPherson present that any team of investigators would include the superintendent, a board mëmber and possibly a legal counsel. The superintendent upon returning from his trip stated that he did not understand this to be binding. In light of this he chose to take a team of his own choosing. I was personally very angry at learning of the superintendent' s departure wíth Miss Bautista and Mcllnay." "It needs to be made clear that the superintendent does have at his dispos al as a budgetary line item funds for travel and expenses to be used at his discretion. Even with this I never expected that the superintendent would decide to spend those funds for such a purpose (covering the expenses of Miss Bautista and Mcllnay). It is erroneous to assume the board would authorize the expenses in this case for anyone but Dr. McPherson." Stewart's statement, also critical of the investigation method, said: "While the AAEA supports the board's acceptance of Miss Bautista's resignation we feel the issue involved goes beyond the credentials of one member of the administrative team. The issue is one of trust and confidence in public officials and employés. We support Dr. McPherson's somewhat belated decisión to have all personnel records r e v i e w e d for irregularities. And we support Board President Cecil Warner's insistence on more details concerning the process of investigation employed in Miss Bautista's case. "The main concern of the teachers of Ann Arbor is that trust and credibility be restored as soon as possible. It was toward this end that the AAEA requested the assistance of the state DeDartment of Education in establishing the status of administrative certifícation. "And it is toward this end that we urge the board to establish an orderly and objective process for resolving the crisis of credibility that now exists." "The AAEA is anxious that the investigative process used in Miss Bautista's case not be used again. We believe that not including a member of the board of education in the investigation would have cast serious doubt on any other recommendation than her resignation." Johnson continued: "With issues of this nature the public wonders why all the facts are not divulged. I believe it is necessary to only reveal that Miss Bautista's credentials were in fact inaccurate. The subsequent resignation based upon those inaccuracies is the imI portant issue. Detailed facts of the tigation which the board has not yet I ceived would not serve a useful purpose I at this time. "I believe the board acted with 1 patch and yet humane and legal caution I in dealing with a difficult situation when I guilt was suspected but due process was I required. , "One final point relates to an article which appeared in the Ann Arbor News wherein the AAEA was accused of gamesmanship,. It must be made very clear that the statements made therein were solely those of Trustee Warner and did not have the concurrence of the board. Furthermore, it is the right of the AAEA as well any other group to question any public official or any public body where its interest or the interest of the community at large are involved. (On May 20 Warner labéled as an obvious sign of gamesmanship" a statement the day before by the AAEA that the teachers group would ask the State Department of Education to , investígate the quaiifications of Miss Bautista. He said it was a political move to gain public support for the AAEA leadership's fight against the school board.) "The problem of Miss Bautista in lts short term dimensión has been handled with the acceptance of her resignation but Supt. McPherson's real test and the board's will come in the future, how distant. I do not know," Johnson continued, "Given this realty the superintendent and the board must begin to act in those ways which will again command and inspire the public's confidence." Miss Bautista, meanwhile, was reported out of town and unavailable for comment on her resignation or her future plans.