Contract extension for Spencer rejected
COMPTON—The Compton Unified School District Personnel Commission voted against extending the contract of interim Personnel Director Dr. Matthew Spencer on Thursday, Aug. 16.
Commissioner Janice Irving and Vice Chair Florence Adams-Vickers voted against the extension. Commission Chair Tara Bonner cast the lone yes vote.
Bonner said the vote left her livid.
“Both Adams-Vickers and Irving have clearly shown they have no idea what they are doing,” she said. “They do not know the rules, regulations or the education code.”
The Personnel Commission needs a permanent director, Bonner said, and extending Spencer’s contract for two months would have assured continuity.
“They do not want him here,” she said.
Administrative Assistant Teri Stallings described the vote as a sad day for the CUSD.
“I asked Adams-Vickers why she decided against keeping Spencer after all the improvements he made to the commission,” she said. “She told me her vision is different from his.”
The commission stores its files and records at the district office and Adams-Vickers cited that issue as one reason for voting against Spencer.
“That is not his fault,” she said. “They have been there since I came to the CUSD nine years ago. I do not understand how it justifies her vote.”
Stallings disagreed with the decision, saying she does not understand why personal feelings drive decisions.
“We need to follow the rules and education codes, which keep everyone on the same page,” she said. “We may not agree all the time, but the education code must be followed and she had no response.”
Stallings said Irving and Adams-Vickers conspired to get rid of Spencer, and met independently, which is a violation of the Brown Act.
“Adams-Vickers got angry when Spencer did not give her son a job,” she said. “I heard Janice Irving say that she does not want him here because he is white.”
Adams-Vickers did not make any racist remarks, she said, but told Stallings that he is prejudiced.
“That remark offended me,” Stallings said. “I thought we have moved forward from this mindset as people. I do not see color when I look at Spencer. He is a good man and cares about CUSD employees.”
She called for an immediate end to politically based decisions. “If someone makes a decision based in principle, they want you out,” she said. “They want to do whatever they want and slide people into jobs. They need to have a talk with God, because the path they are on will lead to the destruction of the Personnel Commission, and it will shut down by their hands.”
Adams-Vickers told The Bulletin that she has nothing but respect for Spencer.
“I feel he is an excellent administrator with a strong background in human resources,” she said. “However, his experience as a personnel director will not meet the long term needs of the classified services in the CUSD. My vote had nothing to do with retaliation because my son did not gain employment in the district.”
CUSD Board of Trustees member Micah Ali said he understands the commissioners’ right to discontinue their agreement with Spencer.
“During his tenure as interim senior personnel director, Spencer unearthed unprecedented cronyism within the Personnel Commission,” he said. “I am hopeful that the important work he started in terms of correcting what appears to have been a longstanding and embedded history of political patronage will be completed as soon as possible.”
Ali said the Board of
Trustees will look at the situation with extreme care.
“I will recommend prompt corrective action if we believe that there are any efforts to discontinue pending investigations,” he said.
In comments after the meeting, Spencer thanked the people who made his time in Compton enjoyable. “The dedicated professionals here made this a pleasurable experience,” he said. “They are men and women of character, and have my respect.”
The group accomplished many marvelous things during his tenure, Spencer said, and he was grateful for the opportunity to serve.
“We established a mission statement and a code of ethics and conduct over the past year,” he said. “The commissioners are on the pathway to governing excellence and they have crossed many milestones.”
Looking forward, Spencer said, the group must stay focused and dedicate itself to the achievements reached over the last year.
“I do not know who they want to lead the group in the future,” he said. “My concern is that all these accomplishments will go for naught.”
Spencer offered no comment about the racism allegations.
An email to Irving seeking comment about the decision was not returned as of press time.
The personnel commission suspended its meeting schedule until the group names a new director.