Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

September 4, 2008

by Marc Albert

After an unscrupulous grifter bankrupted the Emery Unified School District seven years ago, logic suggests the school board would do everything in its power not to be played like a bunch of small town rubes all over again. Well, logic is apparently in short supply.

The San Francisco Chronicle says it spent a total of $40 uncovering what the District’s $7,000 background check could not. That most of the degrees and credentials claimed by Stephen Wesley, hired in November as Superintendent of Schools in Emeryville, were made up out of whole cloth:

Within hours of the story hitting the streets, Wesley was hitting the bricks. The school board accepted his resignation:

The current “reform” school board, elected after the former board was purged, has proven itself as incompetent as those they replaced. While Wesley didn’t have the District pick up the tab for a trip to China, leather furniture, or daytime hotel lodging, as his predecessor, J.L. Handy, is alleged to have done in published reports, ( it is inexcusable that the current board gave the District’s $150,000-a-year top job to a fraudster.

When they ran for office, the reformers said they knew better. Now they are hiding behind the California School Boards Association, an executive search firm paid $7,000 to” find” Wesley (he was an assistant superintendent for the District when he was chosen for the top post) and presumably verify his background. They said the same mistakes wouldn’t be made twice.

For those students of Shakespeare, consider this: The first time is tragedy, the second time farce. The board is expected to release a statement tomorrow. We’ll be watching.

For more background on J.L. Handy click here:

Marc Albert has been a reporter at three radio stations and seven newspapers over the past 20 years. An East Bay resident since 1987, he lived in Emeryville from 1997 to 2008 and is still keenly interested in a community he considers home.

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