State

Patterson sees triple change in key posts at city, schools

Leadership vacuums at two of Patterson's most important government agencies are not related, schools Superintendent Patrick Sweeney, the latest to resign, said Monday.

Sweeney, who has led Patterson Union School District for 13 years, got an attractive offer in Napa, he said. He said his departure, announced Friday, has nothing to do with last week's controversial resignations of former City Manager Cleve Morris and former City Attorney George Logan.

City Council members Sam Cuellar and Annette Smith also said the apparent brain drain is a coincidence, though they declined to speculate on whether Logan's departure was tied to Morris'.

Morris will receive six months' severance pay, or about $64,000, the council members said. The council announced an intent to terminate three weeks ago, but wording on an agenda notice under Logan's control may have been botched.

Logan cited medical reasons in his May 4 resignation and the council formally accepted Morris' resignation on a 3-2 vote at a special meeting Friday, with Cuellar and Councilwoman Dejeune Shelton dissenting.

"I didn't think (his) actions warranted his termination," Cuellar said Monday.

Calls placed to Morris, Logan and Mayor Becky Campo were not returned.

Smith said the vacancies will be plugged by Bryan Whitemyer, assistant city manager under Morris, and Tom Hallinan, who provides legal serv- ices to various agencies under contract. An executive search firm will seek permanent applicants, she said.

The council is wrestling with a $1.5 million budget deficit.

The school district "will not be affected by what is going on at City Hall," Sweeney said. "I just had an opportunity to make a difference in a bigger location."

Council member Smith said, "It's weird that it's all coming down at the same time, but the city's not falling apart."

Sweeney's resignation is effective June 30; Assistant Superintendent Phil Alfano could be interim superintendent until a permanent leader is chosen, Sweeney said.

Patterson's Board of Education held a special meeting Monday night to discuss the superintendent search.

"The (Patterson) district is in a good place. I feel I can make a difference in a bigger setting and that other people can take over and continue Patterson's improvements," Sweeney said. Patterson Unified enrolls 5,600 students; Napa Valley enrolls 17,000.

Sweeney, 53, has been a visible superintendent, serving on many county committees such as Rotary and Stanislaus Partners in Education. During Sweeney's tenure, the district has passed two school construction bonds, built three schools, and increased the number of Latinos and black graduates attending college.

Of the county's 17 high schools, Patterson High ranks second in percentage of students passing college-preparation Advanced Placement tests, Sweeney added.

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at gstapley@modbee.com or 578-2390.

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

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