Shasta County Superintendent of Schools Candidate Bryan Caples Has Sketchy Work History

Bryan Caples

A candidate seeking to become the next Shasta County Superintendent of Schools has been dismissed or granted an early exit from his three stints as a school superintendent during the past decade.

According to public school board records, self-proclaimed conservative candidate Bryan Caples resigned after the Scott Valley Unified School District board of trustees placed him on indefinite leave in 2013, was released from his employment agreement with the Palermo Union School District in 2018 and was terminated by the Burnt Ranch Elementary School District just last month.

From Siskiyou to Butte to Trinity County, Caples, 53, who has a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Organizational Leadership from the University of LaVerne in Los Angeles County and sometimes puts “Dr.” before his name, has bounced all over Northern California.

He calls Shasta County, where he lives with his wife and two sets of grown twins, home. He’s running against current Shasta County Superintendent of Schools Judy Flores, a formidable and popular opponent known for her experience, expertise and work ethic.

Caples, who did not respond to numerous attempts to contact his campaign, is openly running for the nonpartisan position as a white Christian nationalist.

According to his campaign website, during his 30-year career in education, this self-professed god-fearing man “has seen how radical Socialist agendas have been used to force school districts to adopt policies that are anti-American and anti-freedom.”

You know what’s coming next. The dog whistles.

Among Caples’ claims, made on social media and elsewhere, are  that Critical Race Theory or CRT—is reverse discrimination and spreading fast in our schools! (It’s not.) Gender identity “confusion” overflows in our school bathrooms and locker rooms! (It’s not.) Common Core has rewritten U.S. History to focus on America’s ills instead of its greatness! (It hasn’t.)

And of course, Caples is against COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates, and apparently vaccines that protect school children from polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles and rubella as well, if his Facebook comments can be believed. Our freedoms and all that.

Ironically, while Caples can’t accommodate school staff who might be susceptible to COVID-19 by, say, wearing a KN95 mask indoors when required, he’s perfectly fine blaming his spotty performance as a school superintendent on the alleged failure of school boards to accommodate his own illness.

Perhaps seeking to get out in front of the public record, Caples admits on his campaign website that he has Meniere’s Syndrome, a condition of the inner ear that can cause bouts of vertigo and loss of balance. Patients diagnosed with Meniere’s Syndrome often have to give up their driver’s license if the disorder can’t be controlled.

Since Caples’ kids were raised in Shasta County, one wonders how much driving was involved in the candidate’s previous superintendent posts in Scott Valley, Palermo and Burnt Ranch.

“During his tenure as a superintendent, [Caples] has often had to fight his board members to provide him with even the most basic of workplace accommodations,” the campaign website states.

Thanks to this experience, Caples “has a heart for those students, teachers, and staff members that suffer with medical related illnesses.”

Unless they have COVID-19, which is just the flu, so never mind.

“Dr. Caples has never been one to shy away from controversial issues,” the website continues. “As school district superintendent, he has repeatedly put his good name on the line to do what is right for the students he serves. He’s even resigned and had his contract ‘bought out’ for standing up to corrupt school board members and the status quo.”

It’s an unusual campaign admission, to say the least. Caples has indeed been terminated and had his contract bought out as recently as last month, at Burnt Ranch Elementary School District in Trinity County. But his first brush with dismissal as a school district superintendent appears to have taken place at Scott Valley in 2013.

Bryan Caples and family.

Because Siskiyou County schools had gone through a period of consolidation, the grand jury conducted a watchdog investigation of Scott Valley Unified School District during its 2012-2013 session. While the report didn’t mention Caples by name, it was complimentary to the new superintendent:

“The current Superintendent came to the SVUSD with many years of experience. Other than spending a few years in the Army, he has spent his entire working life in education.

“He has taught science, language arts and history; he has been an Assistant Principal, a Principal and a Superintendent-Principal. The current Superintendent was hired in March 2012 and had several months of communication and meetings with the previous Superintendent before officially starting the job on July 1, 2012.”

Little more than a year-and-a-half later, the bloom was off the proverbial rose as the Scott Valley Unified School District board of trustees “voted unanimously to place Dr. Bryan Caples, Superintendent on indefinite Leave of Absence,” according to the board minutes from Nov. 20, 2013.

On Dec. 30, 2013, “The board of trustees unanimously voted to accept the resignation of Superintendent Bryan Caples.”

The Scott Valley Unified School District could not comment on Caples’ tenure because of confidentiality laws. Nothing in the public record mentions an accommodation, or lack thereof, for Caples’ Meniere’s Syndrome.

Caples soon landed on his feet at the Palermo Union School District in Butte County where his starting wage as superintendent was $90,820 in 2014, according to Transparent California, which tracks the wages and pensions of public employees.

Caples’ salary was bumped up to $124,431 in 2015, $132,979 in 2016 and $141,560 in 2017. Caples appeared to be on track for another salary increase in 2018, right up until the Sept. 19 board meeting, when the Palermo Union School District board voted unanimously to release Caples from his contract.

Kathleen Andoe-Nolind was appointed acting superintendent in Caples’ stead. She was later appointed superintendent and remains in the post today. Superintendent Andoe-Nolind could not comment on Caples’ tenure at Palermo or his departure due to confidentiality laws.

Nothing in the district’s public record mentions an accommodation, or lack thereof, for Caples’ Meniere’s Syndrome. Caples’ salary for 2018 was $100,449, some $40,000 less than he earned the previous year.

He expressed interest in running for Butte County Superintendent of Schools in early 2018, but it’s unclear if he actually mounted a campaign.

Burnt Ranch Elementary School on a rainbow day.

The Burnt Ranch Elementary School District is comprised of a single school of 60 students and 5 teachers, located in Trinity County a two-hour drive west from Redding on State Route 299, a twisting ribbon of asphalt considered one of the most dangerous highways in California.

Caples was hired by Burnt Ranch in June 2021. He was contracted for three days a week at the rate of $60,000 annually, according to a school district insider who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation. Caples was required to spend two out of those three days on campus, but according to multiple sources, he was never physically present on campus after the school year started in September.

School started two weeks late that fall thanks to the Monument Fire, which sparked up just a mile away from Burnt Ranch Elementary. According to the school district insider, Caples went on sick leave in November.

Sometime in early December, according to school board minutes, Caples sent a series of emails to school staff slamming the BRESD board of trustees and claiming he was “waiting for the board to begin the ‘interactive process’ to discuss my reasonable accommodation request.”

The claim came out of the blue and several teachers expressed their astonishment at the Dec. 9 board meeting.

“The superintendent has not attended any staff meetings via Zoom or telephones since the 2021-2022 school year started,” said one teacher. “Each person on this staff has worked countless extra hours and done various extra duties to accommodate his 13-week absence from campus.”

A second teacher also complained about Caples’ absence.

“I come today because I am deeply concerned in light of an extremely inappropriate email sent by our superintendent to a group of people last week,” the teacher said. “I say group of people because there were people included in that email that are no longer employed at our school.

“An active superintendent or someone who is aware of the daily happenings would know that. As a parent of two young children at this school, a community member and a teacher charged with teaching three grades while clearing my credential, the threat that an outsider, a stranger to our team here would threaten legal action because of lack of accommodation is outrageous.”

While the two teachers are named in the minutes, A News Café is not publishing their identities due to their concerns about potential retaliation.

The BRESD insider said the district attempted to schedule meetings with Caples to discuss accommodating his illness multiple times, but Caples didn’t keep the appointments. The insider said Caples had repeatedly threatened legal action against the district but so far had not filed suit.

According to the minutes from the Jan. 13, 2022, board meeting, “By unanimous vote, the Burnt Ranch Elementary School District Governing Board took action to terminate Superintendent Dr. Bryan Caples without cause.”

According to the insider, Caples received a 60-day payout on his $60,000 contract.

Caples’ campaign has so far received a $4,900 donation from Shasta General Purpose Committee, the political action committee funded largely be Connecticut son of a billionaire Reverge Anselmo, according to Shasta County Elections.

Will Caples demand similar accommodations from Shasta County, should he somehow win the Superintendent of Schools position on June 7? Will he threaten to sue the Shasta County Office of Education if he isn’t accommodated? Is he really up for the job?

Every voter in Shasta County deserves an answer to those questions, but right now, Dr. Bryan Caples isn’t talking, at least to A News Café.

R.V. Scheide

R.V. Scheide is an award-winning journalist who has covered news, politics, music, arts and culture in Northern California for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in the Tenderloin Times, Sacramento News & Review, Reno News & Review, Chico News & Review, North Bay Bohemian, San Jose Metro, SF Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, Alternet, Boston Phoenix, Creative Loafing and Counterpunch, among many other publications. His honors include winning the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Freedom of Information Act and best columnist awards as well as best commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists, California chapter. Mr. Scheide welcomes your comments and story tips. Contact him at RVScheide@anewscafe.com..

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