The second school board meeting of the New Year took place under something of a cloud Wednesday night: Eisenhower High school basketball coach Steve Johnson was shot earlier this week in a local park.
"We're facing some tragedies and my heart goes out to Steve Johnson and his family," said board member Edgar Montes.
Johnson was shot several times Monday night in the parking lot at Seccombe Lake Park in San Bernardino. The coach told police he was approached by a man who demanded his wallet.
"When I heard the news about Coach Johnson yesterday, I got sick to my stomach, I got weak to my knees," said board president Joseph Ayala.
Johnson remained hospitalized in fair condition in Loma Linda University Medical Center on Wednesday.
Superintendent Harold Cebrun visited him in the hospital earlier in the day, he said.
"He's in good spirits, joking around, but we did realize he's in incredible pain," Cebrun said.
He advised everyone interested in sending the coach cards or letters should mail them in care of Eisenhower High.
Wednesday night was also the first board meeting since audio of a third-grade teacher berating his students drew national attention.
"We've been taking a little bit of beating in the press, but we have total faith in our teachers and staff," Montes said. "We are very proud of our teachers and we are very proud of our employees.
Timothy Braby, a veteran Henry Elementary teacher, was secretly recorded by the family of one of his students in August. On the recording, which later was shared with the media, Braby is heard calling students unintelligent and asking if students are giving him attitude when they fail to indent paragraphs correctly. Braby was placed on paid administrative leave on Thursday, pending the results of an investigation into his conduct.
"We don't want there to be a perception that we don't care," Montes said. "We care about every single child as much as we do our own child."
Braby isn't the only Rialto teacher out of paid administrative leave: More than a dozen people attended the meeting to speak on behalf of Rialto High band teacher Jack Poster, who has been out on administrative leave following an incident with a student earlier this year.
"Just to take him out like that, because of one incident, would be wrong," student Sean Nye said.
"I don't know all the details of what (Poster) was accused of, but ... I would trust him with my children," mother Melissa Wagenhoffer said. She said she had a petition with 624 signatures demanding Poster's return.
Montes said he has faith that Cebrun will handle the personnel matters appropriately.
"It's time to clean the house," community activist Raul Wilson told the board. "All the abuse and violations in this district are on your watch, Mr. Cebrun."
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