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Board Majority Supports Compton Supt. : Trustee Presses for Kimbrough's Resignation

February 14, 1985|DARYL KELLEY | Times Staff Writer

COMPTON — Schools Trustee John Steward has called for the immediate resignation of Supt. Ted Kimbrough, saying in a written evaluation that the superintendent does not trust the school board, is a poor leader and planner and has remained aloof from the community.

Steward also said in his evaluation that the superintendent's "relationship with the seven members of the Board of Trustees has been less than desirable. (He) appears to use every strategy to keep the board members bickering, uninformed and suspicious of each other."

Steward's conclusions were presented to the full board in a closed session Jan. 22 as part of the trustees' annual review of the superintendent, who was hired 2 1/2 years ago to shape up a district beset by accusations of employee wrongdoing.

Kimbrough, who retains the support of a majority of the trustees, said he responded to the evaluations in a confidential memorandum Monday. The evaluations and Kimbrough's response are scheduled for discussion in closed session in two weeks.

Motives Questioned

In an interview, Kimbrough refused to answer specific Steward criticisms, but he questioned the motives of Steward and veteran Trustee Bernice Woods, who he said were the only board members highly critical of his job performance.

"It appears to me that two of the board members have a personal vendetta that has nothing to do with a fair evaluation. These are the only two evaluations I have any concern about," said Kimbrough.

Woods, a longtime opponent of Kimbrough, said Tuesday that her evaluation of the superintendent was not a personal vendetta, but she would not comment further.

The superintendent's four-year contract does not expire until September, 1986, but his performance is reviewed annually by each board member. He could be removed before the contract expires, but his $75,000-a-year salary is guaranteed through the entire contract period.

Steward said he did not expect Kimbrough's resignation or his removal by the school board. Kimbrough would not say whether he intends to stay with the district for the remainder of his contract.

An copy of Steward's evaluation of Kimbrough was sent anonymously to The Times.

Personnel Matter

Kimbrough said he was particularly upset because the Steward evaluation was a personnel matter and legally could not have been made public.

"I'm consulting with my own personal attorneys because, when you violate the (law) and you attack the superintendent and his professional career, there may be injury involved there," he said.

Steward maintained that he provided copies of his evaluation of Kimbrough only to the trustees and the superintendent. He did not mail a copy to a reporter nor was he responsible for it being mailed, Steward said.

He asked The Times not to report on the contents of the evaluation, though he confirmed its authenticity. He also said he had intended to read his conclusions into the public record if the school board decided to keep Kimbrough in Compton for another year.

"I really feel I'm being set up to give the appearance that I'm not working with the board or I'm not respecting the rules of the game," Steward said. "I don't know what's happening, but I feel I'm being victimized. This is directly undermining my credibility."

Because three school board seats, including Steward's, are on the November ballot, potential opponents "might want to portray me as being off track or out of kilter," said Steward, who was elected as a reform candidate in 1981.

Steward defended his critique of Kimbrough, saying it was "an objective evaluation . . . substantiated by fact."

Different View

Trustee Manuel Correa, a board member since 1970 and a candidate for re-election this fall, said he sees things differently than Steward.

"I do not agree with Mr. Steward's evaluation. . . . I don't agree with any of it," said Correa.

Trustee Sam Littleton said he was among the majority of the trustees who gave Kimbrough better than average marks for the last year. The superintendent was evaluated in specific areas on a scale of one to five, five being highest, he said.

"I gave him fives in quite a few things," said Littleton. "I think there were some who gave him fives in almost everything, and some gave him ones in almost everything."

School board President Kelvin Filer declined specific comment on Kimbrough's evaluation but did say, "I don't want to get into a dialogue from individual board members. . . . The board acts, not individual members of the board."

Comment Declined

Trustee Lynn Dymally declined comment, and board member Mary Henry could not be reached for comment.

Steward said Tuesday that trustee comments clearly show that "a majority of the board feels (Kimbrough) is doing an excellent job, or at least a commendable job." Because of that, Steward said he was going to drop the issue, at least for now. "Why beat my head against a brick wall?" he said.

The Kimbrough evaluation is the second confidential document written by Steward to be made public in the last three months.

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