Lead planner out at GUSD

A senior member of the Glendale Unified planning and facilities team — hired last year to usher through millions of dollars in capital improvement projects funded by Measure S — has left the district, officials confirmed this week.

Margaret Brown resigned from her position as administrator of planning, development and facilities on Jan. 17 for “personal reasons,” said Assistant Supt. for Human Resources David Samuelson.

He declined to elaborate on what precipitated the departure, citing personnel privacy laws, but on Monday, Glendale school board President Joylene Wagner said that after roughly seven months, Brown’s relationship with the district “didn’t work.”

Brown’s exit marks the second time in three years she has left a school district while helping to process a large bond-funded construction schedule. In 2010, she resigned from a similar position at the San Ramon Valley Unified School District amid complaints of sexual harassment lodged by four male colleagues.

Brown received a $200,000 payout from the Northern California school district when she left after five years on the job, according to a lawsuit filed by one of the plaintiffs in July 2010.

As part of her departure from Glendale Unified, Brown will receive severance pay, but officials declined to disclose the amount.

Attempts to reach Brown were unsuccessful.

Samuelson strongly rebuffed questions about any possible wrongdoing in Glendale by Brown, saying there was “no unlawful conduct or any misappropriations or anything that would be illegal that is part of this resignation.”

Glendale Unified officials acknowledged they were aware of the allegations of misconduct when they hired Brown in June, but said that after being put through a comprehensive application and interview process, she emerged as a top candidate.

“We called all of our references and all of our people and vetted completely and felt comfortable recommending to the board that she be hired,” Samuelson said.

Board members weighed the allegations, but decided to hire Brown anyway, Wagner said.

“We always look to red flags, but the recommendation was to hire,” Wagner said. “She is someone with great experience, with a long record of knowledge of the industry, and that proved the case.”

Upon her arrival in June, Brown quickly took on a visible role as Glendale Unified set in motion a series of capital improvement projects to be funded by Measure S, a $270-million school bond passed in April. Her annual salary of $136,726 was paid for with bond funds, according to district officials.

In recent months, Brown gave presentations at school board meetings on a planned overhaul of the Hoover High School athletic fields, and also served as a liaison to the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee, a seven-member watchdog group responsible for monitoring bond spending.

Committee members said they were notified about Brown’s departure on Friday and told that she left for personal reasons. They did not press district officials about the matter at their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night.

Glendale Unified officials said that there will be no interruption in Measure S-funded planning and operations, and that they will cover Brown’s responsibilities internally until the position is filled.
 
 

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