Education

Paso school trustee resigns: ‘I can no longer support the direction of the district’

Trustee Dave Lambert, here at a March meeting, announced his resignation from the Paso Robles school board on Tuesday.
Trustee Dave Lambert, here at a March meeting, announced his resignation from the Paso Robles school board on Tuesday. lholden@thetribunenews.com

A Paso Robles Joint Unified School District board member announced his resignation on Tuesday night amid a tumultuous period that included the dismissal of two high school football coaches and the censure of a trustee.

Field Gibson, the board president, said trustee Dave Lambert was resigning due to health reasons. Lambert — who’s served on the board since 2012 — was not present at the meeting.

“At this time, I am very disappointed about recent decisions that have been made,” Lambert said Wednesday in an emailed statement. “I can no longer support the direction of the district. I feel it is in the best interest of the district and myself to part ways.”

Gibson on Wednesday said Lambert’s decision to quit the board was the result of a variety of events, including the pressure that’s been put on the board in recent years: “I don’t know that any one thing adds up to a decision like that.”

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“He’s under a fair amount of stress,” Gibson said. “He has some personal things going on — he hit overload.”

After his decision was announced, Lambert’s fellow board members wished their colleague well.

“He’s contributed much with his work with the students and the parents of our students,” said trustee Kathleen Hall at the meeting. “He’ll be greatly missed.”

“Mr. Lambert exemplifies Bearcat pride and spirit more than anyone I know,” said trustee Chris Bausch in a statement. “While we often clashed during board proceedings, at the end of the day, we would still be civil and respectful toward one another.”

At this time, I am very disappointed about recent decisions that have been made.

Trustee Dave Lambert

The board has dealt with a series of controversies throughout the past year. In November, Rich Schimke was removed from his position as Paso Robles High School’s football coach after a video emerged showing him pouring syrup into a player’s bellybutton during a post-game celebration.

In March, the board voted 6-1 to censure Bausch, who was accused of intimidating and threatening trustees and district staff.

And just last month, the district parted ways with Larry Grant, Schimke’s replacement, amid questions over player transfers.

On Tuesday night, Schimke blasted the board during the public comment portion of the meeting, saying he’s noticed “a definite attempt at culture change” during the last few years.

“You also have to have a board that listens to the teachers, to the parents and the public, and isn’t wowed by the window candy,” he said. “... People need to feel safe to speak up, whether you agree or disagree with what I’m saying.”

When asked about potential issues the board might be facing, Gibson said the district is a “very fast-moving organization.” He said Superintendent Chris Williams was hired in 2014 to make some changes, which may have contributed to current frustrations.

A new trustee will need to replace Lambert, who had about three years left on his term, Gibson said. A replacement will either be appointed or chosen through a special election.

The board will likely hold a special meeting to discuss its options, but Gibson said an interim trustee will likely be appointed to prevent the need for an expensive election.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseyholden27

Former Paso Robles High football coach and current match teacher Rich Schimke criticized the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District and it's handling of multiple issues during public comments of a school board meeting on Tuesday.

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