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Liberty High School Principal Robert Rivas placed on leave

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Robert Rivas

Posted: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 4:06 pm | Updated: 8:26 am, Wed Apr 20, 2011.

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 jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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  • Steve Ruiz posted at 6:44 pm on Tue, Sep 20, 2011.

    SteveO Posts: 5

    My son has been going to Liberty High since last year. He is a Senior this year & is still struggling.
    At the end of 2010-2011 school year, [ex principal] Mr. Rivas had a student/parent conference last April For my son & I to talk about trying harder to be there. - Yet,achievement was behind his story with his own self driven encouragement is his days of "lettuce" ... in analogy terms with being a self-driven, hard working & promptness was essential to achieve your goals.
    My concern with this year, as a parent with a student at Liberty High is: I had to sign the yearly packet for a new school year, yet his name & the old counselors name was on it.
    I have gotten to know the new principal, she is a very understanding principal-yes, but, when my son is late or absent, Rivas's Voice comes with a reminder phone call saying student was absent\tardy. Point I'm trying to make is I had faith in him as well, and wish he could have done the same for my son (as well as other students too) -I don't blame him. I blame LUSD for not reassuring parents of returning students to Liberty High with correct information to sign this 2011-2012 school year.

  • Betty Dean posted at 10:53 pm on Mon, Apr 25, 2011.

    Betty Dean Posts: 144

    I am SURE this is one of Washer and Mckilligan's way of opening a position for one of their "friends" who will be losing there Position.
    You know they have NO integrity whatsoever. Rivas must have made someone mad at the Top for them too pull this at the END of his Carreer, they do this over and over again to good employees.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 10:55 am on Wed, Apr 20, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4308

    Ms. Garcia stated: “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.”

    Mr. Jordan is one fantastic administrator. My dealings with him in the past have been very productive. I wish him well and believe the "teachers" have a leader that will better guide their efforts.

  • Betty Dean posted at 9:54 pm on Tue, Apr 19, 2011.

    Betty Dean Posts: 144

    Let the games begin, Now all of the DIRT that the higher ups is going to come out !
    S29T Is going to hit the fan now, I will be the first to offer to testify against LUSD and their Dis~Honest ways.
    Finally the big guys are falling one by one : )

  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:51 pm on Tue, Apr 19, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    That was in the Sunday Record from Stockton. What always takes the lackadaisical Sentinel 2 days to report old local news?



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