Robert Rivas, Liberty High School’s longtime principal, has been placed on paid administrative leave while he is being investigated by a Sacramento attorney.
Lodi Unified School District received information that indicated there could be some concerns that warranted conducting an investigation regarding allegations of changing student grades, according to a district administrator.
“At this time, an investigation is being conducted in an attempt to carefully and accurately learn information,” said Michael McKilligan, assistant superintendent of personnel. “It is important to everyone in Lodi Unified School District that there be no rush to judgment.”
As of Monday, Rivas was replaced at least on an interim basis by Jim Jordan, a retired district administrator. The news went out Monday evening in an automated phone message to all of Liberty’s students’ households.
Rivas could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The investigation is being overseen by attorney Donna Matties, a partner with Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud and Romo. Her experience includes conducting complex investigations involving both personnel and pupils, according to the company website.
The firm is regularly used by the district, which has them on retainer for other legal issues.
Matties could not be reached for comment.
It is not clear how long the investigation will take, McKilligan said.
Angie Garcia, whose daughter will graduate from Liberty next month, was stunned not necessarily by the allegations, but the sudden absence of Rivas.
“If what they’re saying is true, then that’s wrong,” Garcia said. “But I feel he’s an awesome man. He puts a lot of time and effort into those kids “It’s a sad situation,” she said.
Garcia, who said her daughter is heartbroken, called Monday and spoke to Jordan, who told her that Rivas would not return before the end of the school year.
“I’ve heard the teachers don’t know what to do,” Garcia said. “They feel like they’re in a boat without a motor, especially with the end of the year coming.”
Rivas, who was already planning to retire at the end of this school year after a 35-year career with Lodi Unified School District, has never before been investigated for personnel-related matters, according to McKilligan.
“Mr. Rivas has been a long-standing member of the secondary administrative team,” he said in a written statement.
“Throughout his career, he has been a strong advocate for the students and teachers at the schools he has served.”
Rivas, whose wife is also a Lodi Unified administrator, has worked for the district since 1992.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.