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Superintendent apologizes for e-mail

Superintendent Terry Brace issued an apology to employees of the Merced City School District Thursday morning, several days after teachers’ union leaders intercepted an internal e-mail where he poked fun at the group’s budget concerns.

“The statement was made as a joke, but it obviously offended many people” Brace said in a memo to staff. “It was not my intent to offend anyone, and for that I am very sorry.”

The statement was made by Brace in an April 17 e-mail to the district’s instructional leadership team — made up of all the district’s principals and many administrators. The e-mail told the estimated 50-member team that a Wednesday meeting was canceled “because of the need to keep a high security on the guarding of the hidden $9 million. As you know all extra effort should be focused on maintaining the false appearance of low student enrollment numbers.”

The e-mail continued, stating “if we maintain this extra vigilance, all should continue smoothly as we sail the high waters of open communication between all interested parties.”

This e-mail was sent two days after a district meeting at Hoover Middle School where more than 75 employees picketed because of the district’s handling of their salary negotiations. A few of the teachers who spoke at that meeting said the district was miscalculating its enrollment numbers for next school year, which would affect how much money the district will receive to educate their students.

The week before that meeting, the Merced City Teachers' Association filed an unfair labor practice charge against the district claiming district leaders have lied about its budget and misled union representatives during contract bargaining meetings. The district's chapter of the California School Employees Association, which represents non-teaching employees, plans to file similar charges soon.

Read the whole story in Friday’s Merced Sun-Star.