Move on, Marsh

Just when we think the last drop of ink has been spilled on the Jeff Sloan matter, a new development sends us running reluctantly for a new barrel. The Chico Unified School District Board of Trustees put a lid on the 2004-05 grand jury report—it hoped—with the unanimous approval last week of its legally required written response.

The 2004-05 grand jury had taken on the exhaustive task of examining school accounting practices and student fees ranging from gym uniforms to course materials. It came back with a list of well-reasoned recommendations, many of which will be adopted by the CUSD. The grand jury also found that the improper accounting practices at Marsh Junior High School that led to Principal Sloan’s well-publicized ouster also took place at other schools, and suggested the CUSD could clarify that fact or retract its allegations against Sloan.

That opened the door for Sloan’s many, well-positioned supporters to bang the gong for various levels of boot-licking ranging from apologies to reinstatement to even appointing Sloan to the superintendency. Sloan took it upon himself to pen a response to the grand jury report, rehashing the holes in the district’s case against him and thanking the jury members for “vindicating” him.

Now, the CUSD gets word that the new grand jury wants to continue to look at issues in the CUSD. That’s fine, but if the grand jury’s intent is to continue to beat on the Sloan matter, we think they’re wasting time and public funds. There’s no denying that some district officials and former Superintendent Scott Brown had it out for Jeff Sloan. He’d done things “his way” for many years, with CUSD leaders asleep at the wheel. When they woke up and finally tried to take Sloan down a notch, they bungled the job miserably.

Sloan has many outstanding qualities, particularly how he can build a stand-out school from scratch, rally dedicated supporters and win the admiration of students and parents. With that track record, he could stick around in Chico hoping to return to his former glory in the CUSD, or he could take his talents elsewhere.

At the last school board meeting, both trustees and Sloan supporters called for “healing” in the community. That can’t happen with the Sloan machine still in motion.

We suggest that Sloan swallow his ego and go elsewhere.