State

Schools longtimer takes early retirement

Less than three weeks after a top Modesto City Schools official was placed on leave, a district employee who works closely with Superintendent Arturo Flores has decided to retire.

Pat Nan, the longtime administrative assistant to the superintendent, decided Thursday to retire a few years earlier than planned.

"Conditions in the district have helped me make my decision to retire early," said Nan, 60, without going into further detail. Her retirement is effective July 1, but she said she does not plan on returning to the district office. She'll use vacation days to fill in the next month and a half.

Nan has been a fixture in the superintendent's office, where she's worked for nearly 23 years. Nan said she was hired in the district's purchasing department 37 years ago. She served as James Enochs' secretary when he was assistant superintendent and followed him when he was promoted to superintendent in 1986. Enochs retired in 2007 and was replaced by Flores.

Deputy Superintendent of Business Services Debbe Bailey, 57, was placed on paid administrative leave April 27 without notice, she said. Bailey has since described "philosophical differences" on how to manage the district's budget as the reason for her suspension.

Bailey's swift and surprise placement on leave, employees say, has led to confusion and tension among district staff. Some fear for their jobs.

Flores was out of the office Friday and could not be reached for comment.

Board of Education President Steve Grenbeaux said Friday he understands employees' anxiety and fear about their jobs. He said the board wants to relieve the tension as soon as possible.

"The fear comes from our inability to tell anyone what's going on," he said, referring to state laws that prohibit the public discussion of confidential personnel issues. "It's fear of the unknown. Our intent is to get over with this as quickly and amicably as possible."

The board will meet May 27 to discuss Bailey's employment status, Grenbeaux said.

"Both (Nan and Bailey) are longtime employees," he said. "We want to treat them fairly and with dignity."

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at mhatfield@modbee.com or 578-2339.

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