The Campbell Union High School District board voted Thursday to censure a colleague for racially charged and otherwise discriminatory comments made during a public May 17 meeting and to a San Jose Inside reporter the next day.
Twelve-year trustee and former Campbell Mayor Matthew Dean—a no-show for the hearing—came under fire last month after telling students to toughen up in the face of discrimination and then telling this news outlet, among other things, that he doubts the existence of systemic racism and other forms of bias.
The comments drew the ire of students, parents and teachers here in the South Bay and, according to a June 4 column in the Monterey County Weekly, came as a shock to the folks Dean works with at his day job as fiscal director for Alisal Union School District.
Several Campbell Union employees and students, however, tell San Jose Inside that Dean’s controversial views were well known and widely-discussed long before the governing board finally addressed them in response to media scrutiny.
Gallagher said he worked with legal counsel here in the Campbell-area district to pen a censure that condemned Dean’s remarks for being discriminatory, disparaging and unbecoming of a board member—not because they were conservative.
Trustees said they wish they could remove Dean from the board, but that’s up to the electorate. Voters can either recall him or simply not vote him into another term when his seat comes up for re-election this fall.
Below is a copy of the resolution to censure Dean.
CAMPBELL UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF TRUSTEES RESOLUTION #53-06-14-18 CENSURE OF BOARD TRUSTEE MATTHEW DEAN
1. At the Board of Trustees regular Board meeting held on May 17, 2018, Board Trustee Matthew Dean made the following comments following a presentation by our Student Board Members:
● students who are bullied or called racial and homophobic slurs should look for the diamond in the situation
● when he plays basketball, the people using the n-word are not Caucasian 2.
In an interview with a local reporter the following weekend, Board Trustee M. Dean was reported as saying:
● “One of the comments this young lady made was about the N-word. Now, I play basketball and I almost always hear that word from one subset of people—not Caucasians. That’s all I was trying to say. So it’s really interesting that in almost 59 years of living and years of playing basketball, that 99.9 percent of the time I’ve heard the word, it comes from that one group.”
● “There’s a responsibility on the receiver of comments to choose how they respond. And if they choose a response of victimhood, that’s what they become. ... You don’t like the words? Then change the reality.”
● “We’re in a society right now where if you pay a compliment to a woman, you might get charged with harassment. It’s come to the point where if I’m conducting reviews with women, I have to make sure that we’re not alone or there have to be windows on all sides or something. It’s fraught with peril in today’s environment, and now men aren’t engaging with women in the workplace and not hiring women because of that concern.”
● “We have 50 ethnicities and 50 languages natively spoken in the district and it’s only two ethnic subpopulation that really struggle [black and Latino, he later clarified], but the other 48 cultures do well … So what’s the difference? Is it the system? I think it comes down to more of a cultural problem, a lack of parental involvement.”
● “You know some of these people run around saying they’re marginalized, and I’m going, ‘Really? How?’ I guess they’ve never been to São Paulo and Page 2 of 4 seen what a real slum is like. … I fundamentally question whether it’s them marginalizing themselves.”
● “There’s a game called ‘Smear the Queer,’ and we played that for years in elementary school. That word didn’t have any negative connotations to us. Nobody was offended. All it meant was that the guy with the ball was the ‘queer,’ and the rest of us would run around on the grass and chase him. That’s what boys needed at recess. But people now turn a word and an innocent game into something that it’s not.”
3. At the Special Board meeting held on May 30, 2018, after reviewing and considering the statements made by Board Trustee Dean, the Board concluded that Board Trustee M. Dean’s statements and conduct failed to comply with the Board’s Bylaws.
4. Among other Board Bylaws, the Board finds that Board Trustee Dean’s conduct violated:
● Board Bylaw 0410, which provides, in part, that: “The Governing Board is committed to equal opportunity for all individuals in education. District programs and activities shall be free from discrimination based on gender, sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, ethnic group identification, marital or parental status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation or the perception of one or more of such characteristics.”
● Board Bylaw 5145.3, which provides, in part, that: “The Governing Board desires to provide a safe school environment that allows all students equal access and opportunities in the district's academic, extracurricular, and other educational support programs, services, and activities. The Board prohibits, at any district school or school activity, unlawful discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, intimidation, and bullying, targeted at any student by anyone, based on the student's actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, national origin, nationality, ethnicity, ethnic group identification, age, religion, marital or parental status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.”
● Board Bylaw 9005, which provides, in part, that: “To maximize Board effectiveness and public confidence in district governance, Board members are expected to govern responsibly and hold themselves to the highest standards of ethical conduct” and “Each individual Board member shall: … 4. Act with dignity, and understand the implications of demeanor and behavior.”
● Board Bylaw 9010, which provides, in part, that: “The Board believes that effective Board members have a responsibility to express themselves, whether in agreement or disagreement with the Board majority, in ways that promote the Board's ability to govern the district” and “When speaking to community groups, the media, or other members of the public, individual Board members should recognize that their statements may be perceived as reflecting the views and positions of the Board. Board members have a responsibility to identify personal viewpoints as such and not as the viewpoint of the Board.”
Among the various concerns regarding Board Trustee M. Dean violating the above Board Bylaws, the Board finds that making disparaging and insensitive comments is not conduct befitting of a Board Member.
5. The Board does not condone or approve of the statements made and conduct engaged by Board Trustee Dean and finds it necessary and prudent to declare its strong disapproval of such statements and conduct.
6. The Board finds that censure by a public body is a statement of condemnation and disapproval of one of its members for conduct or actions that violate laws or the body’s policies, rules, regulations, and/or standards and is a public act of admonishing a member for such unacceptable acts or behavior.
7. The Board further determines that adoption of this Resolution is necessary and appropriate to assure employees, students and parents of the District that such inappropriate conduct will not be tolerated.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Campbell Union High School District Board of Trustees does hereby censure, repudiate, disavow, and formally express its disapproval of the statements and actions of Board Member Matthew Dean for engaging in conduct violating the Board Bylaws of the Campbell Union High School District Governing Board.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Campbell Union High School District Board of Trustees expects and requires Board Trustee M. Dean to cease engaging in conduct that violates the Board’s Bylaws and norms and specifically to cease making inappropriate statements that are inconsistent with Board Bylaws and policies.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Board Trustee M. Dean meet with the Superintendent and the Board President to discuss the Board’s concerns regarding his conduct and the expectations of the Board regarding his conduct in the future.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that in the event Board Trustee M. Dean engages in further conduct that does not comply with the Board’s Policies and/or Bylaws, the Board will take appropriate action.
PASSED AND ADOPTED