Members of the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday voted to begin proceedings to censure a fellow trustee accused of threatening them.
The board voted 4-2 to direct staff to draw up a resolution publicly reprimanding Trustee Chris Bausch, who was accused of bullying and making intimidating comments to board members and district staff. Bausch abstained from voting.
Prior to the vote, trustees Kathleen Hall and Joan Summers both brought up past interactions with Bausch they said left them feeling uncomfortable.
Summers said Bausch made statements that included “telling board members you have investigated us, comments to individual board members regarding you carry (a gun), your cache of weapons, a gun with big bullets and you ‘aim for the head’ and other comments that can be perceived as threatening.”
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She also said Bausch had written an opinion piece for the Paso Robles Press on the district’s master facilities plan that included incorrect figures and inaccurate information.
Hall said Bausch repeatedly asked her about her religion, said he would “personally destroy” her and called her “a 72-year-old weak old lady.” She said she’s thought about attending future board meetings via Skype because she’s been worried about her personal safety.
“I’ve had my own personal problems with Mr. Bausch, as he’s known,” Hall said.
Trustee Field Gibson, the board president, said Wednesday that “at one time or another, every member of the board has had issues with Mr. Bausch.” He said many of Bausch’s threatening comments had been made at school board events during conversations before meetings, during breaks, after meetings or in closed sessions.
He acts generally in a bullying, intimidating and threatening manner.
Trustee Field Gibson
“He acts generally in a bullying, intimidating and threatening manner,” he said.
Martha Clayton, a school district spokeswoman, confirmed a school resource officer has been present at the past few board meetings. The additional security has not cost the district any extra money because the officer is already a salaried employee, she said.
Bausch on Thursday said many of the comments Hall and Summers brought up had been made in relation to topics the board had been discussing, such as campus gun-carrying rules and whether to have invocations presented at board meetings.
“There’s no hard evidence of me making any overt threats,” Bausch said, although he did admit to running “background checks” on other board members when they were running for office.
Bausch cited being the “lone conservative” on the school board as rationale for his treatment: “This is a First Amendment rights issue. It’s a control issue.”
I’ve been unfairly misquoted and taken out of context.
Trustee Chris Bausch
“I’ve been unfairly misquoted and taken out of context,” he said.
Board members will vote on the censure resolution at their meeting March 14.