SUSD employees stand up against facilities and planning director Armando Orozco

·3 min read
The Stockton Unified School District's Arthur Coleman Jr. Administrative Complex is located at 56 South Lincoln Street in downtown Stockton.
The Stockton Unified School District's Arthur Coleman Jr. Administrative Complex is located at 56 South Lincoln Street in downtown Stockton.

The Arthur Coleman Jr. Administrative Complex is filled with Stockton Unified School District employees for the Aug. 9 Board of Trustees meeting disgruntled about Director of Facilities and Planning Armando Orozco.

Edgar Valdez, an SUSD employee who said he spoke on behalf of the SUSD Facilities and Planning Department and the California School Employees Association 821, presented the Board with a vote of no confidence in Orozco signed by more than 80 SUSD employees.

ICYMI: Stockton Unified trustees silent at town hall on grand jury report

“Director of Facilities and Planning Armando Orozco has demonstrated a level of apathy and ineptitude toward his duties that have compromised our ability to provide (school services),” Valdez said. “We believe the continuation of Armando Orozco as the Director of Facilities and Planning will jeopardize the services our members provide, the facilities utilized by our students and community, and the financial standing of the district as a whole.”

Grace Caliste spoke on behalf of maintenance and operations staff who were afraid of retaliation.

“It seems everything is just a shot from the hip without any real thought process,” Caliste said. “I know this place wouldn’t be running if it wasn’t for our supervisors doing more than they’re supposed to and making the decisions our leadership couldn’t make … we need a change to our M&O director and manager. If we continue down this path, not only will our maintenance and operations be in shambles, but our sites for students and staff will be affected.”

The California School Employees Association has also filed an unfair labor practice charge against Orozco and Stockton Unified claiming Orozco illegally stripped a union member of their duties and transferred the duties to a newly created management position, leaving the union member with nothing to do for their entire shift daily.

“The district did not negotiate this change with CSEA nor did they provide us with notice, both of which are required by law and CSEA’s labor contract with the district,” CSEA First Vice President Adam Weinberger said in a statement. “CSEA has attempted to resolve the issue without the need for filing this charge, but the district left us no choice.”

Sources confirmed that in a July 27 meeting Orozco told about 100 SUSD staffers he'd been in multiple depositions — testimony under sworn oath — and interviews as a part of an FBI investigation, with the state of California and with the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT), who are currently conducting an AB139 Extraordinary Audit of the school district to determine fraud, misappropriation of funds or other illegal fiscal practices.

SUSD: Facilities director told staffers he’s under investigation by FBI, state auditor

The district has since released a statement to The Record on behalf of Orozco walking back his claims he reportedly made.

“I was reminding my employees of the importance and severity of following proper protocols for purchasing and other processes. I even shared how in previous districts I had to be interviewed by grand jury, FCMAT and FBI. I was not talking about SUSD and I did not say I was interviewed by FBI for SUSD,” the district released in a statement. “I have been in this field for 26 years and proud of the work I do.”

Orozco said he was interviewed by FCMAT and the FBI in 2016 but declined to say what institution he was employed with. His LinkedIn profile shows he was the director of maintenance and operations at Twin Rivers Unified School district from July 2016 to July 2021. There are three FCMAT reports from Twin Rivers Unified in the last 12 years, the most recent published in July 2016. The report states the sample period is from July 2015 through December 2015.

Record reporter Ben Irwin covers Stockton and San Joaquin County government. He can be reached at birwin@recordnet.com or on Twitter @B1rwin. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at recordnet.com/subscribenow

This article originally appeared on The Record: SUSD employees, union air out complaints on director Armando Orozco