Crybaby Superintendent Lists Grievances Against Watchdog Trustee Everett

By Nic Rivera

In a surreal rant during Tuesday night’s board meeting of the Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD), superintendent Mark McLaughlin continued his pattern of throwing out a smokescreen whenever he is asked tough questions. Instead of just answering the question, his pattern has been to attempt to divert attention away from himself and toward Sandee Everett instead.

CVUSD Superintendent Mark McLaughlin

In my research for this editorial, I was able to find most of the video recordings of the incidents that he referred to in his rant, but for some of them his description was too vague. In every case, there was simply a question from Everett – or from citizens during public comments.  As a public figure, McLaughlin really needs to grow thicker skin. The public has every right to question his actions without it resulting in a meltdown or erratic behavior.

He also did the same maneuver when the board was discussing the timesheet insurance fraud complaints against the district that had been asserted by district employees during the Woolsey fire cleanup efforts. At that meeting, the superintendent caused a diversion by calling out Trustee Everett for using her phone during the meeting. Everett made it clear afterwards that she was texting her family about her sick daughter. According to comments by Everett, the superintendent, as well as the other board members, earlier had been made aware of the serious health situation with Everett’s daughter.

This time, McLaughlin was reluctantly responding in the affirmative to a difficult question posed by Everett, who asked him if his office had sent a letter to teachers and other employees of the district indicating that they could attend the GetAhead Summer School program at a significantly discounted rate.  Because GetAhead is operated solely with tuition revenue, this would mean the paying parents were subsidizing discounts for district employees’ children. The summer school program is operated by the Conejo Schools Foundation (CSF) –  but apparently in name only.  In reality, both the teaching and the administration of the summer school are done primarily by CVUSD teachers and staff.  Conejo Schools Foundation’s primary role is to collect tuition fees from parents.  It has been alleged that this collection of tuition violates AB 1575, which is the law that prohibits student fees for educational programs.

CVUSD Trustee Sandee Everett

CVUSD Trustee Sandee Everett

If these allegations are true, then CSF (and CVUSD) owe parents millions of dollars in illegally collected tuition fees over the years. Parents are rightfully angry about this situation, since it is already outrageously expensive for parents to send their children to “free” public school around here. They are especially annoyed when they find out that they could have sent their kids to public summer school in Simi Valley at no cost. Why can’t CVUSD offer free summer school to everyone like Simi does?

The reason that the superintendent’s letter is important is because the district has been claiming that the violation of AB 1575 doesn’t apply here because CSF is a separate 501(c)3 organization and is therefore free to violate the provisions of AB 1575.  The fact that the superintendent’s office sent out that letter definitely demonstrates that the district is materially involved in the financials of the summer school program and therefore CSF is not actually independent.

Visibly bothered by the question from Everett about the letter, the superintendent attempted to divert attention away from himself and toward Everett by reading a prepared statement listing all the times this year that Everett has asked him hard questions. Since this “airing of grievances” was not agendized, his childish outburst was likely also a Brown Act violation.

Acting Board President Jenny Fitzgerald not only allowed this Brown Act violation to occur, but she strongly encouraged it. Ironically, since he was just reading a prepared statement, he could have read it legally during his earlier superintendent comments without breaking the Brown Act.

To many observers, the fact that he mentioned personal health at the beginning of his highly odd outburst suggests that he could be planning to file a complaint or lawsuit in order to extort money from the district. This would of course further erode the already troubled financial status of CVUSD.

As the single conservative member of a highly politicized 4-1 liberal majority board, Everett is typically the only trustee that asks difficult questions. She appears to be the only trustee interested in holding the district leadership accountable to the community. The primary purpose of a school board member is to provide citizen oversight of the district and its superintendent.  

Asking tough questions about finances and potential corruption is exactly what every board member should be doing, not just Mrs. Everett. It is truly a shame that only one board member is willing to do the job she was elected to do. The fact that the superintendent interprets all probing questions as personal attacks says more about him than it does about Everett. He should be responding to questions with eagerness, professionalism and respect. If he cannot handle questions from board members then perhaps McLaughlin is not suited for an executive position and should resign.


Nic Rivera is a resident of Ventura County. Follow Nic on Twitter.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.

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The union promoted this Superintendent in order to be in control. The state teachers union pumped $200,000 into the last election in order to flip the board.
This district is to large with high expectations from the community to have hired a first time Superintendent. He is an adult teenager throwing tantrums at every direction.
The conservative board knew this Superintendent since he was the Director of Human Resources with the CVUSD. He fooled the board then but he is not fooling anyone now.
As for the kind of reoorter Dawn is! She has a direct line to the Superintendent and journalizes exactly what he tells her to report! He tells her how to write the article and how to psychologically fool the community. WE ARE NOT FOOLED! HE IS INCOMPETENT AS A SUPERINTENDENT AND HE NEEDS TO GO. The board just completed his review and since the union controlled board reviewed him, I am sure he received a glowing review.
I say, let’s campaign for a new superintendent for the CVUSD!

Nico van Niekerk

The problem seems to be more because of a lack of skills in evaluating a super, or trying to find a particular bias in a candidate, than the fact that the candidate is a first-time superintendent.

One is either a good manager or one is not. A good manager would intuitively know how to build a team, motivate them and plan for their smooth operation. The conflicts may change but the process of handling conflicts and disagreements always should steer the momentum towards the enterprise’s goals.

And that may be where the problem lies. Do these folks in command even understand what the goals of the District are, and do they agree with the community?

That’s where we should start. That will bring the right superintendent to the fore.

Ginger Brandenburg

I have a good hunch that former/retired CVUSD Board members are very disappointed with the sad state of affairs currently going on today. As a former CVUSD employee, I am personally saddened and frustrated for my grandchildren.

Ginger Brandenburg

I have a good hunch that former/retired and respectable CVUSD Board members are very disappointed with the sad state of affairs currently going on today. As a former CVUSD employee, I am personally saddened and frustrated for my grandchildren.

William Hicks

The question has to be asked…”Why is there a fiscal concern with CVUSD?

Could it be that inadequate ADA funds are not being provided by The State due to parents opting out of CVUSD schools due to the leftist ideology forced in the classrooms?

Pat Lynch

Did anyone see the Acorn article about this today? Dawn Megli is either the worst reporter in history, or she is completely corrupt. She didn’t even bother to check if his accusations against Everett were true. Anyone can look at the archived videos and see that they are all false. Everett never made the accusations that he claims. She just asked questions, which is her job. What was completely disgusting is that Dawn accused Sandee of throwing McLaughlin’s assistant “under the bus” when it was actually McLaughlin himself that threw her under the bus during the meeting. All recorded. Looks like Dawn Megli just prints Mark McLaughlin’s lies without even doing an easy fact check. Really unprofessional and disgustinng work by Dawn Megli and the Acorn.

AM Branch

Thank you Sandee Everett for maintaining a clear focus on getting the job DONE- to assure our students are thriving in a safe, stimulating academic environment fir ALL students.

Luis Maldonado

Did anyone else think that Jenny Fitzgerald’s performance was really strange? Also very scripted and mechanical. It looked like the superintendent has been coaching Jenny on what to say in order to keep Sandee silent. Only problem is that Jenny is NOT a good actress. It was obvious that it was all scripted in advance. These people are SO corrupt.

Nic Rivera

Clearly, this was all orchestrated. McLaughlin has realized that he is over his head. With a total compensation package that is likely over $300K, he should be expected to handle difficult questions without having a meltdown. This is the way guilty people act.

It seems like he pre-planned this bizarre incident with Fitzgerald and it was his way of setting up the premise for a lawsuit. He is planning to leave the job because he can’t handle it and wants to take down CVUSD and take money from our kids’ education on his way out.

Anyone can review the recordings of the board meetings since January to verify that Everett has never accused him of anything. It’s all theater and it’s all bogus.

As an aside, the Acorn’s article today about this is hilarious because it fully exposes their bias and the fact that they seem to print everything that CVUSD (one of their major advertisers) tells them to print – without bothering to check the facts first.

William Hicks

NOT JUST GUILTY PEOPLE but inadequately prepared people act like.

Citizen Reporter

The Conservative former board appointed this guy, so they have no one to blame but themselves. He was already acting insubordinate before they appointed him, so it’s a mystery how he ever got the job.


I would completely agree. How could he possibly have convinced them he would change his insubordinate ways? This is the second time in a row the board has chosen to hire a first time superintendent. This guy is out of his league in a large district with a very involved and diverse community. A more seasoned superintendent would know how to listen to both sides, include all viewpoints on committees and would not shirk his responsibility to resolve community conflict. This guy would do better in a small elementary school district with no controversy.