Explorer Elementary Former Principal Jill Green’s Statement From August

by on September 7, 2011 · 21 comments

in Education, Popular, San Diego

Editor: We have received a number of comments to our post about former principal Jill Green of Explorer Elementary charter school travails. Here is Jill Green’s original statement, made in August. The San Diego U-T had made it public.

Dismissed former principal Jill Green.

By Jill Green / August 2011

As the founding principal of Explorer Elementary Charter School, my devotion to the children, families and teachers at the school was the high point of my professional career. The pride I had in locating a space for the school to allow it to open in 2000, as well as its move to Liberty Station in 2005, encouraged the growth of one of San Diego’s most respected schools with a wait list of over 1200 children and a national reputation as a model charter school. Being able to choose and work with an outstanding faculty to care for children’s academic and emotional development made the school uniquely powerful in guiding children gracefully and sensitively to fulfill their potential.

My retirement was not something I chose but rather it was the result of the Board of Directors informing me in March 2011 that my contract would not be renewed for the 2011-2012 school year. It was a sudden and complete surprise to me, especially given that my 2010 review (a review of the past four years of my performance) was stellar and that just three months earlier in December 2010 I was awarded a $10,000 performance bonus by the Board.

Over the eleven years as principal I had the use of a credit card for academic expenses and also for gifts of gratitude, meals, staff events and luncheons, and business dinners. My use of the card throughout the 11 years was consistently for these same types of expenditures. Shortly after the Board indicated that they had concerns about the use of that card, I was told my contract would not be renewed. This was not only a complete shock but contrary to the way we manage issues at the school, as a major tenet of Explorer is to problem solve with thoughtful conversation leading to resolution.

I attempted to do just that by 1) immediately ceasing to use the card for any purpose as a good faith gesture to allow us time to resolve any misunderstanding, 2) offering to pay back in full any and all charges that the Board had a problem with and 3) offering to accept any specific policy that the Board would like to implement related to the card or reimbursement procedures, including the end of the use of the card if they felt this was a budgetary policy they wanted to institute. In addition:

  • All credit card expenditures were documented, SCHOOL-RELATED purchases of equipment, supplies, events and meals with parents, faculty and Board members (including Board Chair Margaret Egler on multiple occasions).
  • Every time I used the credit card for a school purchase, I documented the receipt (e.g., “bookshelf for library”).
  • Every time I used the credit card for meals or staff events, I listed on the receipt the event and/or the names of faculty, Board members or parents who joined me for the event or business dinner.
  • I turned in my receipts regularly to Jan Economy, office manager for Explorer, who turned them in regularly to Kay McElrath, CFO of High Tech High Learning. Monthly, Ms. McElrath reviewed the receipts, received the credit card bill, and paid the credit card bill. Board Treasurer Brad Blose reviewed the expenditures and included them in his monthly report to the Board. Nothing was ever said to me by Kay, Jan, Brad or the Board at any time prior to March 2011 about my expenditures being inappropriate or excessive. In fact, despite this monthly review process, I was never questioned about any issues or use of the credit card until more than a year after some of the charges were made and right before I was told that my contract would not be renewed.
  • The procedure was the same for the entire 11 years I was Principal with use of the credit card. Nothing has changed except that the school has grown in size and the number of business dinners I had with faculty, staff, school supporters and Board members had increased accordingly. A number of these dinners were with Board members themselves, who knew we were dining on the credit card, and the Explorer office used the card routinely each month to buy the snacks and coffee for Board meetings.
  • Business lunches/dinners and providing food for faculty, staff and Board events have traditionally been part of my job as Principal. I was never told by anyone that this was wrong or a misuse of funds, and in fact I felt (and it was said or implied by the Board for all the years prior to 2011) that this was an integral part of my job as “CEO” of the school. Business dinners often included wine both for me and whomever I was dining with, which was appropriate under the circumstances of these meetings. The restaurant venues were mid-range, respectable restaurants that are appropriate for business dinners, not high end restaurants and not bars or other inappropriate venues.
  • I believe our enormous success as a public charter school, particularly in terms of fundraising and faculty/staff/parent cohesion, was tied in part to these appropriate uses of the credit card for faculty team building (for 11 years, not a single faculty member left Explorer for any reason other than having a baby or relocating to another part of the country), to promote faculty/staff/Board cohesion and morale, to host school social events, and for modest thank-you dinners and gifts for parents and faculty who contributed something significant to the school (since 2000, I helped raise more than $10 million for Explorer Elementary for capital projects and for on-going operations).
  • As I said, even though I vigorously defended every charge as being related to the school and my job as Principal, I offered to pay back any charges that any Board member questioned for any reason, and to cease and desist in any use of the card. These good faith offers made in an attempt to resolve the matter were rejected by the Board.
  • Simply and unequivocally put, the card was NEVER USED FOR PERSONAL EXPENSES.

To this day I am confused, frustrated, hurt and heartbroken over the events that led to the end of my tenure as Principal of Explorer Elementary. I am especially upset that these events have and will continue to have a profound impact on the Explorer community, a community I successfully helped to build literally from the ground up and a community that I still care deeply about. I have always given my heart and mind to the children and their families without reservation.

–Jill Green

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar thinking out loud September 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Crook….
Way to many explanations for shady conduct. One thing I have learned in life when a person over talks most times they are covering something up.

Reply

avatar G E Rasputin September 7, 2011 at 6:13 pm

One word: LIAR!!

Reply

avatar long time Explorer parent September 7, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Actually, Jill Green hasn’t defended herself or over talked this, so I’m guessing that Thinking Out Loud is not a parent at the school.

As a parent at Explorer who has followed this story from the start, I know that this published piece is Jill Green’s statement to the press and this is the one and only time she has publicly given a statement about her departure and the reasons. I’ve learned that she gave this statement in August, when contacted by the press. Rumor at school now, and c0nfirmed to some degree by the reporter and the U-T editor, is that someone connected to the Explorer Board (a friend of a Board member) contacted the press in August and fed them a smear story. The U-T is even backtracking because they realize they weren’t given the true story. Did you see today’s U-T article? If you know the U-T, they rarely retract a statement. The fact that they are backtracking is because they know they misled the public by believing the misrepresentations fed to them by the people who orchestrated this mess.

I am an Explorer parent who actually reviewed all the receipts in question by borrowing a copy from the person who got them under the Public Records Act. Because I know all the names of teachers, families, Board members and staff (as a long-time parent of the school), and also because I am aware of all the school-related events we have each year at Explorer, it was fairly easy to see, when going through the 307 pages of receipts, that Jill’s expenditures were legitimate and related to the school. Most of the receipts were for equipment and supplies purchased for the school and classrooms (teacher names and classrooms were even noted for any purchase). A large number of the business meals were with Zoltan Sarda, a teacher who did a lot of school planning with Jill related to the social-emotional curriculum. I didn’t see anything that looked excessive or questionable. When I take someone out for a business meal and deduct it, we have social talk and share a glass of wine and also talk some business. So what if Jill did the same? I think that anyone who helped raise $10 million over 11 years in private donations doesn’t need to justify this small number of business dinners.

Likewise with the “gifts.” Every single one was documented and a lot of them were to teachers who retired or moved. These teachers worked at Explorer a long time, and the gifts were the school’s goodbye to them—and we’re talking modest gifts like a sweater or gift card. Other gifts and meals were for parents who gave a big donation of time or money to the school, and again the thank you was modest. Don’t people get it? — that to fund raise, you have to spend some money dining and acknowledging donors and volunteers?

And then there are the dog treats—-Anyone who attends Explorer knows that Gus is like the school mascot, and that students (and their younger siblings) feed Gus treats all day at school, so questioning this small amount of money over 2 years would be the same as questioning the purchase of food for animals in the science lab.

It’s clear to parents who have been at Explorer for a long time that Jill was a fantastic Principal who led the school to its success. It’s also clear that this Board action in forcing Jill out was political, was tied to HTH Learning, that there was a power struggle between HTH philosophy and Jill, and they forced Jill out under this made-up story about her spending. Jill got a raw deal. The U-T really missed the story and misled the community.

A lot of parents (like a few hundred)–not just 1—protested Jill’s departure for many months and the school is divided now. That wasn’t reported by the U-T or Channel 10. People should look at the public records from Board meetings if you want to learn more. This was a pretty big deal for our school and I attended some of those Board meetings myself. The parents who are believing that Jill did something wrong haven’t looked at the facts, in my opinion. I asked the parent who has the receipt file, just a few days ago, if anyone other than me has borrowed the file to see the receipts. He said only one or two other parents, and he is surprised that more people don’t want to look into the facts themselves. So that means that parents spewing ugliness on the U-T website have never even bothered to look at the receipts themselves or to call Jill Green and ask for her side of the story.

I thought parents at our school were more politically savvy than they are showing themselves to be. No one needs to believe what Jill Green or the Board is saying—that’s not my point–but people should educate themselves and examine the receipts before taking a position. Our school was a community and she was great to the children. How people can turn on her after all she has done is kind of unbelievable. Even if everything the U-T says is right—that she overspent on some dinners and professional gifts and bought Gus $400 of dog treats over 2 years—how does this justify what the Board did to the whole school in the middle of the year, and how does this justify forcing her out and attempting to cover up the real reason? I’m still stinging from the Board lying to the entire parent body all these months.

Reply

avatar I'm so old September 8, 2011 at 10:42 am

“Actually, Jill Green hasn’t defended herself or over talked this, so I’m guessing that Thinking Out Loud is not a parent at the school.”

Isn’t this page her statement defending herself? Plus, the U-T published more statements from her lawyers yesterday.

Reply

avatar karma karma September 10, 2011 at 10:33 pm

It is one thing to have your own strong opinion. it is quite another to tell untruths to prop up your statement. “a few hundred parents” NEVER happened. Did it ever occur to you that Jill wrote whatever she wanted on the receipts and no one knew it until it was investigated? Because she didn’t think she was going to get caught.

Reply

avatar a long time parent of Explorer September 12, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Actually, about 150 parents voted to bring Jill back. An Explorer parent did an online poll of the parents in June and got this many votes (last I heard) and has the emails to prove it. About 9 or 10 people voted no. Then in August the new school administration released an email saying that they did a parent poll and “are happy to report that 83% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with Explorer last year.” Then if you look at the survey, it was essentially asking multiple choice questions only about the classes, the teachers, homework, the curriculum, and so on. There were not any questions about whether parents were satisfied with the Board or the removal of Jill. The only question that was open ended about how parents felt about the school year was the last question (#7) and those results were not released. And then it came out that only 127 parents replied to the survey (out of about 400+ parents). Of course, the administration didn’t mention any of this when they reported the 83% satisfaction rate. I thought it was pretty telling that the Explorer parent’s email poll in June (about bringing back Jill Green) got more responses than an official Explorer poll.

Reply

avatar thinking out loud September 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Long time : you proved my point. Re-read the 2nd sentence if you must. Well if she was treated unfairly tell her to sue the pants off the UT and 10 news. Case closed.

Reply

avatar a long time parent of Explorer September 7, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Thinking out loud: You don’t want to hear the facts and so you put down anyone who takes the time to explain the facts. You poison the well by this kind of one-liner put down. It makes any intelligent conversation or discussion impossible. That’s too bad and not really a thoughtful approach to any issue.

Reply

avatar thinking out loud September 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Long Time: She/You do not disagree with ” wine , gifts and dog treats” nuff said. If you feel that is Poisoning the well you are in la la land…People in general are fing sick and tired of this BS get a grip…..I will listen and read it all…..You are entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts….She spent money on items that were not allowed. She violated public trust. To what degree is open to interpretation….It does not change basic facts….
If she were being vetted she would be in a world of trouble….
Like I mentioned she should have her legal counsel get in touch with The UT legal department and McGraw Hills as well…

Reply

avatar Goatskull September 8, 2011 at 8:42 am

SPORTS!!

Reply

avatar thinking out loud September 8, 2011 at 3:37 pm

what does sports have to do with this conversation…Oh its all just in sport Ok I get it.

Reply

avatar JEC September 7, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Out loud – People in general are fing (?) sick… forgive me. I need some clarification. About which ‘BS’ you mean? Thoughtless lynch mobs who act recklessly and tear apart the community? Or politically agendas disguised as moral outrage? You are reading these comments; you are thinking about things. You may disagree with some of the items she purchased. You may really dislike people she hired -(a much larger expenditure by the way). But with the clarity of mud provided by the purchasing manuel, and my experience, I seriously doubt she violated any rule.

Reply

avatar thinking out loud September 8, 2011 at 6:29 am

In my humble opinion after talking to my friends, clients and listening to people in general . People are fing sick and tired of stories like this. Some body has a business or company credit card and they spend like it is a personal card….Dog treats come on…Wine ? clearly against the policy and procedure….
Lynch mobs , political agendas moral outrage….what a leap that was .
Gus was ” like the school mascot” does not fly people are sick and tired of shady actions like these.

Reply

avatar Goatskull September 8, 2011 at 10:04 am

“Gus was ” like the school mascot” does not fly people are sick and tired of shady actions like these.”

I’m not.

Reply

avatar thinking out loud September 8, 2011 at 3:34 pm

So ” somebody” thinks that they have a dog that is so special it deserves doggy treats and the school pays for it ?? Well holy hell go to any dog park everybody thinks that they have the BEST dog in the land…what a stupid theory …If that is all she has or her supporters have its pretty weak…..
goat then you pay for it …..

Reply

avatar a long time parent of Explorer September 11, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Enough of the knee-jerk outrage. And unless you were a donor to the school, you have no right even to complain because the treats were paid for with private donations—didn’t you see the U-T retractions? I was a donor and gave more than enough to cover the dog treats—we’re talking about $400 over 2 years, for crying out loud. I could care less if my money was spent that way. Gus meant the world to my kids and to every child at that school. He acted like a therapy dog to some of my friends’ kids who ended up in the office with personal struggles like separation from their parents at drop off or a bully issue on the playground. Explorer students, their brothers and sisters, even the parents gave the dog treats to Gus. This is so stupid that people are crucifying an incredible principal for 11 years over this. And it was the school office protocol for years and years—to pay for some dog treats, just like the school paid for the food for the bearded dragon and rats in the science room. It’s not like Jill Green was sneaking around buying dog treats. This was a school-related expense she turned her receipts in for, and the Board and HTH accounting reviewed them and approved them. Why can’t people see the facts here? If it was wrong, then her boss(the Board and CFO) should have told her.

Reply

avatar Time will tell... September 8, 2011 at 10:13 am

If Ms. Green was guilty of something so awful, then I don’t think she would comment on anything. She had an out. Also, if she did something else that was wrong, the board shouldn’t protect her. They should tell us. The fact that the credit card expenses have been the same for years, tells me they are using this as an excuse to get rid of her. What the real reason is, time will tell. I just hope Ms. Green’s career and integrity didn’t get ruined for something unrelated to these accusations. I think the success of the school speaks for itself.

Reply

avatar karma karma September 10, 2011 at 10:22 pm

The hit bird flutters.

Reply

avatar editordude September 13, 2011 at 10:18 am

We have found out that Jill Green made this statement in August this year. We’ve adjusted the dates on her statement in the post.

Reply

avatar karma karma September 13, 2011 at 6:32 pm

it may be that some parents were open to having jill back in response to the parent survey, but little more than that. The majority have moved on and ARE happy with the new leadership. The drama, back stabbing and chaos of yesterday is but a whisper among most. it is only long time parent and a few of his or her friends that fight to keep this lie alive. jill made her bed a long time and now she gets to sleep in it, all by herself.

Reply

avatar thinking out loud September 13, 2011 at 6:46 pm

well put move on …hope she learned a lesson in being up front and ethical

Reply

Leave a Comment

Before clicking Submit, please complete this simple statement to help us weed out the bots... Thank you! *

Older Article:

Newer Article: