Antioch Unified Could Censure and Remove its Board President. Is This an Attempt to Silence Criticism?

An Antioch Unified school board trustee is facing possible censure and removal from the presidency after he criticized the district’s handling of workplace bullying complaints. 

Board President Antonio Hernandez recently called for the resignation of Superintendent Stephanie Anello in connection with a bullying scandal involving facilities director Kenneth Turange II. Anello is good friends with Turnage, who has been accused of hostility by multiple AUSD employees. One former subordinate even accused Turnage of placing his desk on the roof of a maintenance structure to humiliate him. According to the employees who complained, Superintendent Anello did not take appropriate action to stop Turnage’s workplace harassment.

Hernandez says he was trying to hold the district and its superintendent accountable when he called for Anello’s ouster. But another trustee, Mary Rocha, says his criticisms put the district’s reputation in jeopardy. She wants the board to strip him of his title and issue a formal censure. The board will discuss the items on June 26.

Hernandez says he won’t apologize for defending workplace decorum and district employees.

“The system, the school district, and people – anyone can tell me what I should or shouldn’t do, but the only thing I know truthfully in my head is the way to reach unity is by doing what I know is right for our employees and our students,” Hernandez told NBC News. “People often see dissent as causing division, but truly dissent is how we build a better system.”