When the Fontana Unified School District (FUSD) Board of Eduction hired a new superintendent in Nov. 2013, they hired someone with no superintendent experience. Dr. Leslie Boozer was brought on board after having worked short stints as a teacher in Los Angeles and a chief of schools in Chicago, Ill.
Boozer’s lack of experience was so significant that the district paid for a mentor for her first two years to help Boozer learn how to be a superintendent. Originally the contract required a current or former California superintendent be hired as her mentor but she was able to convince the board to allow her to hire an old friend from back east.
That contract expired last November and critics say little was accomplished during those two years. As a matter of fact, they say, the biggest effect from having Boozer and her mentor running FUSD is a systematic reduction in public safety on school campuses.
During those two years, and continuing to this day, rather than staying in the district and dealing with the crisis, Boozer has traveled the country, racking up tens of thousands of dollars in travel expenses paid for by the taxpayers, often without the knowledge of the full board. Additionally, she has brought in her own staff, many of them personal friends and acquaintances, to run the district office in her absence yet they have no more experience in the district than she has.
Located in Fontana, Calif., FUSD is the second largest school district in the county and 18th in the state. It consists of five high schools, seven middle schools, 30 elementary schools, one continuation school, and one adult education school along with numerous preschools. The district educates 39,900 students.
Fontana is home to a variety of street gangs and has the dubious honor of being the city where the Hell’s Angels was founded. The Fontana Gang Map indicates 88 different street gangs have a presence in Fontana.
Previous school board members fought hard to create a professional school police force to deal with the sophisticated criminal nature of some of the district’s students. Under their leadership they created a FUSD police department where officers are POST certified with full police powers and extensive training.
In response to an inquiry from byteclay.com, Kathy Binks, a FUSD member for 25 years and president of the board three years and who fought to bring in the school police, stated “I am very concerned about things happening within the district. We worked hard to get the school police into the district and a fully recognized police force.
“It breaks my heart to see them dwindle down to nothing. It is a safety issue for students, parents and faculty,” continued Binks. “The police department is shrinking while the district is growing. “ Binks says she is concerned that all of the hard work she and other board members did to create the department is about to be for naught.
The current situation at the school district is in direct conflict with what Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren and the Fontana City Council are doing to create a safe city. Those city leaders are dedicated to improving the quality of life for the residents while the current school district administration seems to have no vested interest in the district or the residents.
The school district has four school police officers, two corporals, two sergeants, and a chief. It is down five officers. However, instead of hiring additional officers, Boozer added a lieutenant’s position to the force and has made that position a hiring priority. LCAP funding for the position is $130,323.
The district ratio of officers to students is one officer for every 10,000 students. A safe ratio would be one officer for every 2,000 students.
A recent incident brought concerns to the forefront. Two school employees were on campus after hours. One of the employees noticed that a man was coming up from behind a female employee. He was carrying a large empty plastic bag. The female employee did not realize he was there until the other employee called it to her attention. When she turned around to confront the man, he fled.
According to a school police officer who wishes to remain anonymous, it appeared the man was attempting to kidnap or sexual assault the female employee. It would not be the first time a female employee was sexually assaulted on an FUSD campus.
School police officers tell byteclay.com that Boozer’s response to the incident was that “there is no money in the budget for an additional shift of police officers.” As a matter of fact, she feels that campus security can be handled by unarmed security guards.
Of even greater concern is the Dec. 2 massacre in San Bernardino where 14 were killed and 22 wounded. Both city of Fontana and FUSD police were among the agencies that responded to the attack due to its proximity.
After the attack, officials suggested that the perpetrators also planned to target a local school. Photos of a neighboring Rialto school were found on one of the assailant’s phones.
The seriousness of the situation in Fontana would appear to be of little concern to its superintendent. In a meeting with three officers, Boozer made the threat, “Don’t let me be the one who gets rid of school police.” She more recently has said that if she does away with school police, Fontana Police Department must respond to calls and offers that as a way to free up school district funds for something other than school police.
In another situation, Boozer created a hostile work environment after a school police officer turned down her advances. She told him that she needed a sperm donor. She went so far as to show up at the gym where he works out and started working out with him at a Cops and Boxers function. She didn’t ask any questions about program only the officer she was pursuing.
The officer, whose name is being withheld, is engaged to be married and not interested in Boozer. But because of her actions towards him, he has had to face the humiliation of being known as “Boozer’s Boy Toy” throughout the school district.
Past school boards have recognized the issues the district deals with in terms of gangs and violence on campus. However, sources say the three controlling members of the current board, Board President Lorena Corona, Vice President Mary Sandoval, and immediate past president Barbara Chavez, support Boozer.
At least one of the three controlling board members, Barbara Chavez, even makes light of the district’s student body, referring to the students as her “gang babies.” Chavez is alleged to also be one of the figures behind the online social media presence known as “Raza Fontana.”
School police officers tell byteclay.com the current safety situation at FUSD schools is dire. They also tell byteclay.com they have no support from the district’s administration or majority of the Board of Education. They are afraid there will be a major incident they are not staffed to handle. So far, they say, their concerns have fallen on deaf ears.