Ventura School Board President comments on the departure of Superintendent Michael Babb

Special board meeting Monday 3-6-17 to discuss a replacement

VUSD Board President Velma Lomax at Dec. 2016 Board Meeting. Photo: MarcLagsam/

By George Miller

The recent firing of Ventura Unified School District Superintendent Michael Babb caused quite a stir.  However, as Board President Velma Lomax conveyed to, this is not something that came out of the blue. She told us that “it is no secret that the board was working with him on his communication and leadership skills…..   It was time for us to go in  a different direction.” She hesitated to cite specifics, citing “confidentiality of closed meetings” and “the Brown Act” as reasons for not doing so.  Lomax: “I’m trying to say that there were points of performance that were not what a Superintendent’s should be.”

This week the board voted 4-1 to terminate him without cause. Per the Ventura Star, only board member Rodriguez voted not to terminate him and that was mainly because of excessive management staff vacancies at the moment.

Making over $200,000 a year, Babb was only 20 months on the job. He had previously been Principal at Foster Elementary, held a staff position with the County School Dist., Then moved on to head up Mesa Union District before being appointed VUSD Supt.

Ms. Lomax told us “we’ve been blessed with fine communicators, such as Joe Spirito and Trudy Arriaga,” invoking respected predecessor Superintendents. “It would be difficult for anyone to jump into those footsteps,” she added. “We want that culture to continue.” Arriaga first hired Babb as Foster Elementary Principal.

Lomax reiterated that Babb was not terminated for cause. When I asked her if his technical skills were acceptable, she said that he had done great things in that realm, with his greatest strengths in curriculum and instruction. “In the right position or settings, he would do very well,” she offered. Ventura has ranked in the top quartile of the state, per test scores. She added that he was not experienced in very large districts like Ventura, didn’t have high school experience and came from a very small district (Mesa Union- with just one school)- “we knew that when we hired him.”

In December, a guest lecturer at three classes at Anacapa Middle School defamed then President-elect Donald Trump. Babb’s handling of that incident and its tumultuous aftermath fell considerably short of professional. An article today in the Star has the district seeming to deny any problem there, but that account falls considerably short of what really occurred. Read this article and others referenced therein and decide for yourself. The mother of one of the students speaking up at the December board meeting told us later that at least five students confirm the Trump-Hitler comparison and that the teacher attempted to weight students interviewed by an investigator toward her preferred view of the situation. The Anacapa incident is one of many- it just got more publicity and an angry parent to pursue it doggedly.

When asked what the board is doing for a replacement Supt., Ms. Lomax informed us that Deputy Supt. Joe Richards is filling in. On Monday, March 6, the board will hold a special meeting to discuss finding  a new Supt. This session will be held at District headquarters at 255 Stanley Ave., in the Einstein Room. . Check out the district web site for agenda details, which weren’t available when we interviewed  Ms. Lomax.

10:15 PM- Here it is

The meeting’s at 11 AM with public comment on the closed session, The open session is afterward. We don’t know what time it will start.

She wrapped up by opining that Ventura Unified School District is excellent and will continue  in a very positive direction.


Curiculum Vitae of former VUSD Supt. Michael Babb. source:


Other articles:

Angry Citizens descend upon Ventura School Board over “HitlerGate”/Trump lecture and District mishandling

George Miller is Publisher of and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard

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Guest Lecturer Handwriting Analyst Shiela Lowe’s website