MCOE PICKS CONTROVERSIAL SUPERINTENDENT TO LEAD IT THROUGH DIFFICULT TIMES

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Federal lawsuit against Steve Tietjen alleges abuse of power stemming from 2012 including actions that may have caused a teacher to have a second heart attack…

MERCED COUNTY, CA – You know the old saying that if you keep trying the same thing over and over expecting different results, well you might be a bit crazy. That’s pretty much how Merced County seems to run its business, too. Keep appointing bad leaders to positions of power only to have bigger problems down the road.

So when Steven Tietjen, the superintendent Los Banos Unified, was selected as the top educator for Merced County, well we were reminded of a little lawsuit that Tietjen and his comrades would rather you forget.

Mark Duffy, a former teacher filed a Federal lawsuit last year seeking to hold some of Los Banos Unified School District’s top officials accountable for retaliation because Duffy publicly opposed actions taken by our new member of the MCOE governing board, Steve Tietjen. The suit also named Los Banos High School Principal Ryan Hartsoch, Los Banos High Vice Principal Veli Gurgen and Pacheco High School Principal Dan Sutton. Duffy states in his claim that the officials harassed him after he exercised his first amendment rights.

The First Amendment is every American’s right to Religion and Expression. It further states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

In the lawsuit, Duffy states that  Tietjen has a “narcissistic and image-conscious nature” and reassigned Martin to the bus barn for a “make-work administrative position.” Which is basically a position that keeps the person employed but has no real benefit to the employer.

The suit was brought when Duffy alleges that Tietjen reassigned former Los Banos High School Principle Dan Martin as a personal attack rather than due to job performance. Tietjen had been granted a request to reassign Martin after Tietjen went to the school board in 2012 telling the trustees that he had no confidence in Martin. Duffy alleges Tietjen is notoriously known by faculty and staff as one who engages in personal attacks, hangs faculty members’ jobs over their heads, and encourages employees to report one another.

The suit further alleges that when Duffy made his opposition to the decision public, Tietjen the ordered Sutton, Hartsoch, and Gurgen to scrutinize Duffy’s work performance including “frequent monitoring visits to his (Duffy’s) classroom by one or more of the defendants (and) Duffy was transferred out of his AP English course he had taught for several years to a class where he taught continuation students with academic and behavioral difficulties,” according to the lawsuit filed by Duffy.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the claim also alleges that Tietjen and his cronies rescinded Duffy’s accommodation for a coronary condition and required him to work with “restrictions that placed his health at unnecessary risk,” the lawsuit states and that “stress of the unfair scrutiny and retaliation got to Duffy, who had a second heart attack in September 2013. Sutton delivered Duffy a poor performance review on September 16, 2013. Duffy was even accused of faking his second heart attack.”

Unfortunately Tietjen and others like him in Merced County Leadership wine and dine and schmooze with local attorneys, politicians, judges, the DA, police Chiefs and Sheriff and when someone considered of less ilk causes any of them a problem, they just make a few phone calls and the attacks against their accuser’s character begin.
Tietjen then accused Duffy of writing letters to Tietjen’s wife accusing Tietjen of having an affair, though no charges were ever filed. And records indicate that Hartsoch was able to convince a judge to issue a restraining order against Duffy in July of 2014 claiming Duffy stood outside of Hartsoch’s door and made an obscene gesture with his middle finger and alleges that Duffy followed him from Hartsoch’s home or nearby to Los Banos High on 21 occasions from June 2013 through June 2014.
But Duffy contends that the restraining order in the suit “was based on false evidence presented by LBUSD and Hartsoch” and that Duffy “believes that persons associated with LBUSD made special efforts to publicize the restraining order proceeding in the local media, in an effort to embarrass him.”
Many people in Merced County know that when one county leader is under attack for wrong doings, phone calls are made to Chiefs of police, the DA, Judges, the Sheriff, the mayors, city council members, and Board of Supervisors and they all go on the attack of the person and or persons who are about to expose them for their misdeeds. Bogus charges and allegations against the people who speak up and stand against Merced County leaders’ injustices and good people are lost to other counties who offer a better more stable working environment where a person can feel like a human being again.
So when we read that Tietjen had been selected for the top educator position we were not surprised. Merced County Schools have been suffering. From teachers sexually assaulting students, drug and alcohol abuse, abusing special needs children  and the placing of a deputy at an elementary school as a resource officer who has been successfully sued by a woman for sexually molesting her when she was 14 until she turned 16 years old; it’s no wonder our youth are growing up angry and willing to belong to something like a gang that they feel they can trust more than what our schools are delivering.
And much of the abuse that has gone on in the Los Banos Unified school district, Steve Tietjen oversaw and did nothing. And now our wise leaders have appointed him as top educator of the Merced County Office of Education? Well I can only say that I am very grateful I took my child out of the Merced County school system and he has excelled! Optional choices to give your child a great education and a brighter future? Consider any number of private school options like Stone Ridge Christian and many provide scholarships to help pay. And another option is K12 which is a home based school curriculum that really gives you total control of your students education. K12 is from kindergarten through 12th grade and is absolutely free. They will even send your child a computer and printer and will send you a check at the end of the school year to help pay for the internet used for your child’s education.
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