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California school trustee accused of racist Facebook posts faces censure

Alvord Unified School District trustee Joseph Barragan faces a possible censure at the board’s Tuesday, May 30 meeting.

A school board member accused of posting social media messages insulting undocumented immigrants, blacks and Muslims, could be rebuked Tuesday, May 30, by his board colleagues.

The Alvord Unified School District board will meet at 9:15 a.m. to consider a resolution censuring board member Joseph Barragan, but he said Monday night, May 29, that it’s not related to the alleged postings.

The proposed resolution says that Barragan on several occasions violated board policies and basic principles of “decorum, professionalism, decency and good stewardship of the district” by posting Facebook messages critical of Alvord Superintendent Sid Salazar and other administrators. Barragan has made “unfounded and unproven allegations” of inappropriate, unethical and reckless spending, the document states. Barragan also used Facebook to criticize district teachers regarding salary issues, but has no authority to speak publicly of behalf of the district or board on matters involving labor negotiations, the proposed resolution states.

Barragan’s conduct represents “a failure of public trust,” puts the district’s reputation in “a negative light” and interferes with its responsibilities to properly serve its students, employees and the community, the proposed resolution states.

In a statement, Barragan called the censure resolution “a clear attempt to limit transparency and sweep problems that are occurring in the Alvord Unified School District under the rug.” He added that his Facebook statements contain factual information obtained under the California Public Records Act.

“My allegiance lies with the United States Constitution, not with those who choose to hide the dirty deeds of the district,” Barragan wrote.

Alvord school board member Robert Schwandt requested the censure resolution, according to the board’s agenda.

Barragan came under fire in February after screen shots of now-deleted Facebook messages appeared online. Barragan has denied writing the posts and said his account was hacked. Riverside police are investigating his complaint of the hacking. Alvord serves the western Riverside area and part of Corona.

Community members earlier this month launched an effort to recall Barragan from office. He was the only candidate to file last year for a vacant Trustee Area 2 seat, which includes Riverside’s Arlanza area. The seat didn’t appear on the November ballot and he took office in December.

School board members are set to have a study session about the budget before discussing the possible censure.

The 9:15 a.m. meeting is in the board room at district headquarters, 9 KPC Parkway, Corona.