Who knew the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Catholic Church had so much in common? Both are willing to shuffle around errant, high-ranking administrators. Any employer who agrees to be next in line when hiring potentially problematic administrators (once made known) must also bear culpability should problems again arise.
To that end, on March 9, 2018, Deputy Inspector General Frank Cabibi was forced to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment, retaliation and racially tinged remarks. Cabibi later landed on his feet at the doorstep of Amtrak Los Angeles as a Senior Investigator. A former deputy inspector general at LAUSD OIG and former supervising agent-in-charge at Department of Justice (Glendale, CA) now seeking employment as a senior investigator at Amtrak should’ve given HR reason to pause.
Then in June 2018, disgraced Inspector General Kenneth (Ken) Bramlett’s contract wasn’t renewed by the Board of Education due to allegations of failed leadership and fostering a hostile work environment.
Yet in January 2019, Bramlett touted his LAUSD credentials and found his way over to Albuquerque, New Mexico as their Inspector General. Did Albuquerque City Council take time to verify Kenneth Bramlett’s credentials and work ethic?
And now, current LAUSD Deputy Superintendent Vivian Ekchian is poised to be Glendale Unified School District’s (GSUD) next Superintendent.
While Vivian Ekchian was the “acting” superintendent near the end of 2017 and then “interim” superintendent in January 2018, the LAUSD Office of Inspector General debacle was in full swing. Ekchian ultimately was not selected for the position of LAUSD Superintendent for which she competed. Wonder why?
It was rumored in hushed corners in dark places within the Beaudry building that Ekchian was given the second highest ranking position at the LAUSD to placate her for being passed over for superintendent job.
It was rumored and discussed in hushed corners in dark places within the Beaudry building that Ekchian was given the second highest ranking position at the LAUSD to placate her for being passed over for superintendent job. The Board members were seemingly unhappy about the negative publicity being generated by myself and others.
The LAUSD Board of Education unanimously agreed to show Bramlett the door. Board Member Nick Melvoin acknowledged in an interview that his concerns about Bramlett’s inability to manage the office’s culture and caseload played a role when the Board declined to renew Bramlett’s contract .
It is easily understood why Vivian Ekchian was not the Board’s first choice for superintendent Reported claims of mismanagement and inappropriate behavior committed by Bramlett and Cabibi, in the Office of the Inspector General may have had an impact.
K-12 Education reporter Kyle Stokes at Laist has well documented allegations of a hostile work environment, sexual harassment and incomplete investigations in the Office of the Inspector General during Ekchian’s tenure as the “superintendent”. Anyone inclined to do a pre-employment due diligence investigation could’ve easily obtained this information.
Nonetheless, the Glendale Unified School District is poised to announce Vivian Ekchian as their next Superintendent. She has been lauded as a career professional who has demonstrated a love for the student population while at the LAUSD.
While attention to detail for a student body is important – what about LAUSD employees?
That same sense of care, concern and compassion seems to fall short when it comes to District employees—well, at least one.
In June 2016, Deputy Superintendent Vivian Ekchian, was the “Skelly hearing officer” presiding over an administrative hearing; there was an unstated expectation of impartiality and fairness. She was not.
Ekchian, in her own words under oath defined her role in that hearing this way: “the administrator of the Skelly should be fair, objective, take all information into consideration… review all of the evidence… during that scheduled time.” She did not.
Documents obtained through discovery revealed that Ms. Ekchian had been chosen as my Skelly hearing officer by the office of David Holmquist, General Counsel, LAUSD.
Emails obtained between the approximate forty LAUSD staffers from the Office of General Counsel (OGC), Staff Relations (HR) and the Inspector General’s office, all of whom conspired to fire me, agreed that Vivian Ekchian was a “good fit”. I would later learn what that meant- after my termination.
During my administrative hearing, Vivian Ekchian abruptly interrupted my attorney’s presentation and concluded my hearing stating she had a [LAUSD] graduation to attend.
Never mind the fact that my “life” so to speak was on the line. I was defending myself against policy violations that could be career ending; knowing full well the charges had been crafted and manufactured, by everyone involved, for that intended purpose.
So, as Vivian Ekchian hastily exited the Beaudry building at the end of my hearing, she called Melinda LeDuff Menfee, Staff Relations Manager, and directed LeDuff Menefee to draft a termination letter. No notes. No review. No discussion.
So much for being “fair and objective”. My due process was never a consideration.
Vivian Ekchian had been a “good fit”; she did what she was sent to do. Vivian Ekchian was a complicit, co-conspirator who made a conscious decision to circle the LAUSD wagons. She [and the others] assumed I would go away quietly into the good night. I will not.
According to Le Duff-Menefee’s sworn deposition, at the conclusion of my administrative hearing Vivian Ekchian called her and, “we discussed it a little bit after the meeting. Of course, it wasn't very long, because she had to leave, but she -- at the time, I do believe she was going to sustain it, … and she was thinking of going with the -- sustaining the dismissal, and then when I sent this to her for signature, she finalized it.”
Vivian Ekchian’s letter of termination was presented to the Board of Education at their last meeting of the school year. You see, LAUSD Board members were leaving on summer break and the administrative statute of limitations was about to toll and prevent my termination. Email exchanges between Melinda LeDuff Menefee, OGC associate counsel and the Office of the Inspector General (my bosses) indicated “time is of the essence”; and the group moved in unison, succinctly and swiftly.
Power and authority.
LAUSD Office of the Inspector General administrators Kenneth Bramlett and Frank Cabibi both of whom have seemingly outrun allegations of misconduct, malfeasance and mismanagement have moved on to greener pastures.
Vivian Ekchian has been a “good soldier”. Next, she will be the Superintendent at Glendale Unified School District and is expected to be an asset to the GUSD. I have no doubt that she will be “a good fit.”