The Inside Scoop
The question is, “Why?” Why did Superintendent Nate Carman, after supporting air travel for the chess program last year, decide it wasn’t in the students’ best interest this year? What changed? It wasn’t so much the $17 grand in airfare.
Of course we know now that students K-12 were made to travel together on the trip which resulted in a breakdown of the charter bus while en route back to San Benito. Despite parent volunteers tending to at least one sick child, thankfully everyone made it home safely, in spite of some tense moments.
For readers who may not be keeping up with the story, Jack Garcia, the now-former after school coordinator and past San Benito Mayor who had been employed by the district for 22 years, was abruptly put on leave pending an internal investigation for what was alleged to be the unauthorized purchase of $17k worth in airfare for the chess program prior to obtaining a purchase order from the district. Garcia has said that he conducted business as usual and was never told of the policy. Garcia was ultimately fired, which created a stir within the community. Of course, Garcia’s aunt, ML Garcia, is a member of the board who has been, at times, critical of certain district business dealings (read my earlier columns for details).
Here’s what Garcia and his attorney, Tony Conners, have to say this week:
“Carman’s Choice for the Children of San Benito was a ‘Comfortable’ bus that was broken and dangerous.
In a February 14th email addressed to the principals whose students were going to the ‘Super State’ in Houston, Dr. Carman states, ‘We have approved a comfortable charter bus for this trip,’ (See Exhibit A). Was Dr. Carman really thinking of the comfort of the chess group when he decided to cancel nonrefundable Southwest airline tickets? Of course not.
The next time you consider purchasing a bus ticket, make sure you request the ‘comfortable’ bus.
Dr. Carman also stated, ‘This mode of travel is consistent with other extracurricular and co-curricular student groups traveling within the state,’ (See Exhibit A).
Is it prudent for a group of students with ages ranging from kinder-12 grade to ride together in the same bus when they are competing in a challenging mental game the same day after a long road trip? Of course not.
A parent later recalled, ‘The day was too long. They were tired for the first round.” The entire first day for the chess group became a minimum of a 16 to 17-hour day, when you consider when the group woke up, traveling, playing, eating, and arrangements for sleeping.
Dr. Carman also stated, “We do not have any other student groups flying to Houston that, I’m aware of,’ (See Exhibit A).”
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