Central Unified Board votes to terminate superintendent's contract

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Mark Sutton's contract is up in June. Many parents thought he was safe until at least then. But the Central Unified School District Board came back from a closed session on Tuesday with a decision many didn't see coming.

A board meeting that started with thunderous applause of its superintendent, ended in silent condemnation of its board members. Families watched as the man they came to support at this meeting was ousted in front of their very eyes.

"They're not going to find someone like Mark Sutton to replace. They lost the superintendent," said Wendy Yribarren, Parent.

Sutton came to the district three years ago and quickly won over parents, teachers, and students. Many came to his defense when rumors started spreading that trustees weren't going to renew his contract.

"I'm really disappointed that our elected board has not represented the people of this community," said Julie Jobinger, Parent.

Since early February, supporters have been packing board meetings believing that public opinion would be enough to sway the board to keep Sutton.

It wasn't enough.

Trustees voted 4 to 3 to terminate him without cause, shocking the entire room.

RELATED: Parents rally to keep beloved Central Unified Superintendent

"Some of them, I think they have their own personal agendas that are so entrenched that they could care less what we think," said Eric Engelman, Parent.

"Why would you not renew him. You saw tonight. There were a bunch of family members. Everyone was out here supporting him, so why is the reason you don't like him," said Nathalie Lake, Sophomore.

Board President Caesar Granda could not answer that question. He voted for terminating Sutton but says confidentiality prevents him from explaining why.

"As a board member, it's a closed session item, and we can't discuss employment decisions," said Cesar Granda, Board President.

Families say they may have lost Sutton, but the fight against the board is far from over.

No interim superintendent was named on Tuesday. The board says possible candidates will be decided during a special meeting next Tuesday.
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