Unprecedented 6-1 vote aims at alleged threats

Paso Robles Joint Unified School District (PRJUSD) Board of trustees member Chris Bausch was censured in a 6-1 vote at a Mar. 14 board meeting primarily for comments “that could be perceived as threatening.”

Bausch’s censure, which is a public statement against his behavior that will have no effect on his position on the Board of Trustees, followed over two hours of discussion. Bausch was the only dissenting vote on the censure resolution.

Board Trustee Kathleen Hall

Bausch’s alleged comments included his referencing his “cache of weapons,” “a gun with big bullets,” and that he “aims for the head.” Board trustees also claim he threatened to “destroy” fellow trustee Kathleen Hall, questioned her religious beliefs, and called her a “weak, 72-year old woman.”

Bausch spent much of the night refuting the allegations, saying that they were taken out of context and unsubstantiated. During the evening, Bausch said that PRJUSD Superintendent Chris Williams did not release the information as required under the California Public Records Act.

Bausch stated that on Dec. 1, 2016, when many of the alleged threats are cited, Hall may have been intoxicated due to her slurred speech, glassy expression, and statement that he was afraid to debate “a weak old lady.” He also said Board President Field Gibson used profanities.

Board President Field Gibson

Bausch apologized before mentioning his own accusations against the other board members, and said, “This has to come out.”

PRJUSD trustees were visibly shocked at his comments, and PRJUSD trustee Joan Summers called them “delusional,” while PRJUSD trustee Tim Gearhart said, “I now understand what alternative facts [are].”  Gearhart had earlier in the meeting dismissed the claim that Bausch’s remarks were taken out of context, calling it, “Baloney! I saw it; I was there; it happened.”  

Board Trustee Joan Summers

Bausch called for the situation to be investigated by the county and state departments of education as well as a grand jury.  “I will request that they come in to review our district’s private practices to see if any of these private practices should be brought to light,” Bausch wrote in a letter to the Paso Robles Daily News, following the censure. 

Summers welcomed the investigation, saying that the facts  will “all come out.” “[Bausch has] the proof? Well, so do we,” Summers said.

The discussion was preceded by 11 public comments, most of which were against censure.

San Miguel resident and Paso Robles business owner Randall Jordan said he knows Bausch and suggested that the true motive behind the censure was Bausch’s opposition to sanctuary schools and that the board was “using this as an excuse to shut him up.” Jordan also invited the audience to attend a Tea Party meeting.

Board Trustee Tim Gearhart

Hall said that the censure “has nothing to do with politics or political correctness as [Bausch] likes to suggest. We are an active Board with many differences of opinions, but we use those differences to forge strong policies that contribute to the success of each and every student… to do nothing means we condone such behavior.”

Many of those who commented expressed that they were disappointed the board could not resolve the issue in private, but many board trustees saw no other remedy. “the bad and improper behavior has been going on for over a year and we had exhausted all other means or remedies,” said Gibson. “We’re at our wit’s end.”

Bausch was reelected in the 2016 general election by the largest margin of any PRJUSD board member.

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