Ivan Natividad

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May 9, 2014
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Nevada County Superintendent of Schools race heating up

At some point during the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools race, incumbent Holly Hermansen thought her opponent, Paul Haas, was a nice guy.

Now she doesn’t.

In April, Hermansen told The Union that she has worked with Haas, a KNCO reporter, as a member of the media, and referred to him as “a nice guy.” Recently, though, Hermansen retracted the statement amidst claims that Haas has acted inappropriately toward Hermansen’s supporters.

“I’ve changed my mind. People in the community have been telling me that he has gotten aggressive when they say they are supporting me,” Hermansen said Wednesday. “That is just not OK.”

Haas, though, says the claims are bogus, and absolutely not true.

“I have not gotten aggressive with anyone about anything. This is the first I have heard anything of the sort,” Haas said. “I would never do anything like that to anyone in the community. It’s just not in my nature, it’s not my style of doing things.”

The war of words in this year’s Superintendent of Schools race has been a saga of “he said, she said.”

In March, through the use of public documents, The Union reported that Haas had been previously fired from a principal position at a Sacramento charter school due to accusations of fraud.

Since then, Haas has provided documentation from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing stating that they reviewed the case and did not find a reason to take away his teaching credentials.

During a video interview with The Union, though, Haas claimed that Hermansen’s office gave information to the newspaper, which led to the story. Hermansen said she has heard of the story but denies having any involvement in it, and said she has no knowledge of anyone in her office passing on information to The Union.

“Not my office, nor I, sent over that information,” Hermansen said. “I’ve been very careful to keep this campaign positive, so I, nor did anyone at my office send over that information, at least that I’m aware of. I don’t know what people do on their own time, but our office had nothing to do with it.”

While both camps have said they have made it a point to run a positive campaign, their supporters, and those who oppose them, have spoken out publicly to decry one candidate, and their supporters, in favor of another.

Last week, former county educator Stanton Miller, in an op-ed in The Union, criticized Nevada County Board of Education member Marianne Slade-Troutman for allegations, Miller says, she has made against Hermansen in The Union and on the radio.

“She seems to be preoccupied with attacking (Hermansen), however her allegations against Ms. Hermansen are based on faulty information,” Miller stated in the op-ed. “Marianne Slade-Troutman is entitled to her opinion, but not to her own facts.”

Miller most recently worked under Hermansen as the associate superintendent of student services for the Superintendent of Schools office.

Slade-Troutman has made further accusations against Hermansen saying that she uses county funds to pay her Rotary Club dues, and that Hermansen will not disclose her county office credit card bill to the board and public.

“The Rotary dues are paid through my office; it’s very common for organizations to pay for the Rotary dues of their employees to get them out there in the community and it’s a very appropriate use of funds,” Hermansen responded. “I make a lot of contacts and connections through my Rotary club that directly benefit schools.”

In reference to her credit card bill disclosure Hermansen added, “The county board has addressed that issue several times, and they do not believe that they want to micromanage my budget. They approve the budget each year and as long as I operate within the parameters of the budget that the board approves, they don’t want to see the details.”

Recently, Slade-Troutman has thrown her support to the Haas camp, and this past weekend bought an advertisement in The Union, with fellow board member John Meeks, endorsing Haas. The ad focuses on the claim that Hermansen will use county reserves to build a new administration building for her office that the county does not need.

Haas has also been on the offensive in reference to talks of a new administration building, claiming that Hermansen wants to use money for a building, when the funds are needed more for students and educational programs.

“The current building that we have has been adequate. In the past we’ve had several thousand students in the county, and with declining enrollment, I don’t understand why it’s no longer adequate,” Haas said. “To me it’s always going to be students before buildings, and programs before administrative overhead. That’s where I want our resources spent, where it makes a difference most, is with the students.”

Hermansen, though, has gone on the record saying that she does not necessarily plan to build a new building, but that the office wants to merge their facilities into one, to improve efficiency.

“I have no intention of building a new building,” she said. “My plan, and what I believe is, I can consolidate some of my existing facilities into one larger building, and I plan to do that at either a cost savings, or a cost neutral, as to what costs currently are. I’m not intending to use any new funding for this.”

Hermansen, who has been Superintendent of Schools since 2007, is banking on her on the job experience as the reason why voters should choose her over Haas.

“It’s very clear that it is experience and qualifications that set us apart,” Hermansen said. “I’ve been doing this job for seven years very successfully. I have great trust with the community and all of the school districts. My qualifications and experience have led me into this position, and the time I have been in this position I have done a good job. Hermansen added, “(Haas), while he has had educational experience, it has not prepared him for this level of position. A school principal at a charter school of an independent study program does not prepare you for this job.”

Haas says he will use finances in the office differently than Hermansen, and is betting that voters in June will see his candidacy as a new direction for county schools.

“Active leadership and being a part of the solution,” Haas said. “Not necessarily sitting in an office or a desk and telling people what to do, but actually getting out and being active with the districts and being in touch with the students and their families.”

Haas added, “Being the true voice of the community in what’s best for education is what I want as a superintendent. I believe that (Hermansen) is following top-down direction from the California Department of Education, and I want to make sure I am supporting from the bottom up.”

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email inatividad@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

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The Union Updated May 30, 2014 03:32PM Published May 9, 2014 02:45PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.