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Denair Unified fires superintendent
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In an unexpected turn of events Thursday night, the Denair Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously voted to terminate Superintendent Edward Parraz.

Parraz will be placed on administrative leave effective immediately until the board and Parraz can come to an agreement on the release of his contract, which was set to expire June 30, 2014.

“It is with deep regret that we inform that the board has reached a unanimous decision to place Superintendent Parraz on administrative leave,” said Board President Robert Hodges.

The board’s decision surprised the community members at Thursday's board meeting and many said they felt uncertain about the district’s future.

“It caught me off guard,” said DUSD parent Monica Crabtree.  “We’re finally moving in the right direction.  I think it was the right decision."

Trustees also failed to reach an agreement with the district support staff on a proposed 3.5 percent salary cut from January through June. The tentative agreement would force the district to pay back the lost salary in four years and refrain from layoffs for the rest of the year.

Denair Unified Teachers Association President Barry Cole said that the teachers agreed to take the 3.5 percent cut only if the district paid it back in four years.

In other action, the board unanimously approved a general waiver to combine its middle school and high school community day programs.  This merger will cost the district $100,000.

The board will also be forced to dip into savings by more than $298,000 for the rest of the school year.  Deputy Superintendent Judy Sylvester will present a resolution before the board during its next meeting to approve the motion to borrow money from the Stanislaus County Office of Education.

“I strongly recommend the board approve this motion,” said Sylvester.  “The district will not be able to meet its financial obligations for this year or the subsequent year.”

Thursday's actions come one week after the trustees considered postponing board elections for one year in order to realign the district's elections with the statewide election.  At the March 7 meeting, Parraz recommended postponing the elections as a cost-saving measure.  But Parraz, and the trustees, had no answer when community members asked how much the savings would be from postponing elections.

Stanislaus County Clerk Recorder and Registrar of Voters Lee Lundrigan told the Journal that DUSD never contacted her office about changes in the election schedule or costs associated with it. Lundrigan also stated she thought changing the election schedule would end up costing the district more money.

The election postponement proposal was met with disdain from community members, and it was ultimately voted down.

The DUSD has been holding special meetings for the past three months in an effort to cut $1.4 million in ongoing spending to avoid a state takeover.