State

Trustees to look at school officials

Modesto City Schools trustees will meet in a special, closed-door session this afternoon to discuss Superintendent Arturo Flores' annual evaluation and the contracts of Deputy Superintendents Debbe Bailey and Chris Flesuras.

Bailey, head of business services, was placed on paid administrative leave April 27 without notice. Bailey, 57, has since described "philosophical differences" on how to manage the district's budget as the reason for her suspension.

Bailey's attorney, Frank Zumwalt, has been in contact with the district's lawyer and wasn't sure Monday if Bailey or he would be present during the meeting, which is closed to the public.

Flesuras is head of the district's human resources department.

In another surprise move, Pat Nan, the longtime administrative assistant to the superintendent, decided May 14 to retire a few years earlier than planned, citing a less-than-optimal working environment at the district office. Combined with Bailey's suspension, employees said they've noticed a spike in tension.

Some residents and employees have questioned the prudence of buying out Bailey's $165,000 annual contract, increasing attorney's fees and risking lawsuits at the same time the state is in a fiscal crisis and the district must lay off staff and cut programs.

Trustees said Monday that they were mindful of the bottom line.

Placing Bailey on leave was not "a capricious or arbitrary decision by the superintendent or the board," said board President Steve Grenbeaux.

The meeting will start at 4:30 p.m. today in the district's boardroom, 425 Locust St. The agenda allows for comments from the public at the beginning before trustees adjourn to closed session.

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

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