The Battle to Save Oak Run Elementary School District

Oak Run Elementary School staff and students on the blacktop.

Misti Livingston is fed up. For the past year, the superintendent/principal/special education teacher and Jill of all Trades for the Oak Run Elementary School District has struggled to meet the needs of her students, even as a clutch of disgruntled former employees, a family feud and an infamous political gadfly have brought the district to the brink of bankruptcy.

Based in part on information provided by the disgruntled employees and the gadfly, Shasta County Office of Education superintendent Judy Flores declared the school “a lack of going concern” in early December. That’s an accounting term that means Oak Run Elementary School District is at risk of insolvency and may be unable to meet its financial obligations.

Oak Run is a K-8 school that currently provides services– including breakfast and lunch — to 30 rural students, many of whom are low income, and some of whom qualify as homeless. Much of this poverty remains hidden in the forested Sierra/Cascade foothills east of Redding, which includes one deep hollow known as “The Hole” that locals warn outsiders to stay away from. If Oak Run School is forced to close, some of these kids will go hungry, let alone miss out on an early childhood education.

According to the going concern determination letter written by SCOE business director Jessica Bigby and sent to Livingston and the Oak Run Elementary School District (ORESD) board members on Dec. 13, 17 of those 30 students don’t have immunization records or medical exemptions on file at the school, and therefore can’t be counted in the average daily attendance, according to state regulations.

Livingston disputes those figures and says SCOE never contacted her when it audited the school’s immunization records. She contends that state law requires her to provide services to all the students in her district regardless of their vaccination status. Students who lack immunization records or medical exemptions are registered for independent study, where they can work at home or in an isolated classroom at the school.

The Oak Run Elementary School District staff, with superintendent/principal Misti Livingston in orange.

“We have to take students if they live in the district, regardless of vaccination status,” Livingston told A News Café. “We are doing that. We are in compliance.”

The bulk of the state funding Oak Run School receives is based on its ADA, which has ranged from 30 students to 45 students since Livingston took over the district in July 2020. Cutting the ADA from its current 30 students to 13 students could bankrupt the school. The consequences for Livingston’s administrative and teaching credentials could be gloomy, according to Bigby’s letter.

“When the superintendent submitted the certification for average daily attendance each year she either knowingly claimed these students with the knowledge of their not meeting these criteria or failed to look into their validity of documentation,” Bigby stated. “Either way, there is a risk that Ms. Livingston could lose her credential with the state of California for misconduct.”

Bigby notes the education code requires SCOE to notify the governing board of the school district in the case of a lack of going concern determination. Yet she also sent the letter to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Michael Fine, the CEO of the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team and Elizabeth Dearstyne, Director of the School Fiscal Services Division for the California Department of Education.

That’s concerning for at least two reasons.

First, as SCOE is well aware, Oak Run School’s longtime administrative secretary, Tiffany Fulkerson, abruptly resigned in July 2023, taking her institutional knowledge with her and leaving Livingston and the district in the lurch.

A new less-experienced secretary has been hired, but for months Livingston has been emailing SCOE officials requesting help with nearly three dozen administrative tasks formerly performed by Fulkerson, including keeping track of vaccination records.

SCOE has provided some support and guidance, but the beleaguered superintendent says she often has been met with indifference. She provided emails demonstrating that SCOE has failed, for example, to provide promised training to the new school secretary.

Secondly, Bigby’s letter claims, “Over the last nine months, our office has also received multiple reports of a hostile work environment, a uniform complaint, theft of misappropriation of funds with district and club assets, and unprofessional conduct that we believe the board should look into. There also appear to be a great number of violations of the Brown Act in relation to posting properly for board meetings online and on campus, as well as restricting access to the public via campus restrictions that encompass board meetings.”

As this story will document, most of these unsubstantiated allegations were made by the disgruntled employees who were creating the hostile environment at the school in the first place, along with the political gadfly, Dolores Lucero.

In the case of the theft allegations, Bigby could have consulted with the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the allegations and cleared Livingston of any wrongdoing on Nov. 13, a month before Bigby sent the letter including the false theft allegation to the top education official in the state, Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond.

Considering the CDE will ultimately decide if Livingston is penalized for ADA discrepancies, the SCOE letter featuring false allegations is obviously prejudicial to her case.

So, yes, Oak Run superintendent Misti Livingston is fed up. Now the Army veteran is fighting back against the disgruntled former workers, the feuding family members and Lucero.

“They can’t do this to people anymore,” she said. “We’re trying to create a peaceful community and they want to do the opposite. We need to stand together.”

 Meltdown Leads to Lockdown

According to Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Molly Roberts’ report, on the morning of Nov. 28, Lillian Gonzales, one of the disgruntled former Oak Run School employees, and Dolores Lucero, arrived at the Oak Run Elementary School office and demanded that Livingston hand over certain documents.

Gonzales is the step-daughter of Georgia DeLarge, matriarch of the local DeLarge/Simonis family, some of whom, including Lillian and Georgia, have an antagonistic relationship with Livingston and the Oak Run Elementary School, according to Livingston.

Gonzales was hired as the school’s community coordinator in early October, with the hopes she could improve relations with the feuding family members. Instead, Livingston said Gonzales did the opposite of that, openly criticizing teachers and staff in front of students. Livingston dismissed Gonzales after just a month, in early November, well before her probationary period was up.

When Gonzales came to the school in late November, she claimed she was starting her own home school, taking her own children and the children of several other Oak Run Elementary School families with her. She demanded all the children’s school records, which Livingston denied because Gonzales did not have the proper home-schooling certification for the kids who weren’t her own.

Dolores Lucero behind the podium at Gateway Unified School District.

Meanwhile, Lucero asked for documents from a public records act request she’d submitted to Livingston 10 days previously. When Livingston explained that she had 30 days to fulfill her request, not 10, Lucero became irate, according to multiple witnesses who responded to the rising voices in the office of the small school.

“When Dolores Lucero and Lillian Gonzales came to the school office on Nov. 28, Lucero came in quite hostile, raising her voice, demanding documents, saying we were all breaking the law,” Livingston told A News Café.

“I asked her to speak civilly to which she responded, ‘I don’t have to be civil! I am here to expose corruption!’”

According to Deputy Roberts’ report, a verbal standoff ensued in which Livingston asked Gonzales and Lucero to leave the school nine or 10 times and Lucero grew increasingly more belligerent. The pair left only after Livingston called the sheriff. They roared off in a car that said, “God’s children are not government property” on the side.

“Livingston requested both subjects be trespassed from the location due to making staff members feel unsafe,” Deputy Roberts reported. “Livingston was adamant about asking for Lucero and Gonzales to be charged with PC 626.8—interfering with peaceful conduct on school grounds.”

Lucero and Gonzales were not cited, but as far as Livingston was concerned, Gonzales and Lucero’s disruptive behavior crossed a line. She decided to fight back.

So, in early December, Livingston emailed Lucero and told her to come to Oak Run Elementary School to pick up some documents on the afternoon of Dec. 4. Lucero no doubt expected the documents from her public records request. It was not to be.

“When Lucero came to the school on Dec. 4, she was served a restraining order,” Livingston said. “Two people met her at the sidewalk in front of the office to stop her from going into the office because I was in there and could not legally serve her. The door was locked so she couldn’t get in anyway.”

“You’ve been served,” one of the process-servers told Lucero. “Buh-bye.”

But Lucero didn’t leave.

“She was served and was asked to leave the premises, but she was still trying to push her way through the people who were serving her, saying she had something to give me,” Livingston recalled. “She was asked several times to leave. One of the persons serving her radioed over the walkie-talkie to call the sheriff because she was not leaving. Then she went into a fit. She started flailing her arms and yelling very loudly, ‘She’s stealing money from the children! You are all violating the law! I’m calling the sheriff; you don’t have to! This is a conflict of interest!’”

“She was not leaving the premises and getting louder and more irate, so one of the persons who served her asked, over the walkie-talkie, for me to call a lockdown,” Livingston said. “So, I did. She immediately got into her car and she left hastily after the lockdown was called. I then called the sheriff’s department to report that we had a lockdown because of Lucero’s behavior.”

Anyone who’s ever tried to serve an evasive person a restraining order can appreciate Livingston’s predicament, but Deputy Roberts was not amused.

“I explained to Livingston asking Lucero to come on school premises was not the right setting for serving restraining order paperwork and could have, in any situation, been dangerous for the children at the location,” the deputy stated in her report.

Nevertheless, Deputy Roberts recommended that District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett’s office (which was also sent SCOE’s lack of going concern letter) review the case for Lucero to be charged with PC 626.8—interfering with peaceful conduct on school grounds.

Livingston’s restraining order sought to have Lucero immediately barred from Oak Run Elementary School campus. She filed a similar restraining order against Lillian Gonzales.

On Tuesday a Shasta County Superior Court judge denied the restraining order against Gonzales because no physical violence had occurred. Livingston dropped the restraining order against Lucero for the same reason.

Livingston said the judge warned Gonzales and Lucero, who was also in attendance, that he’ll be the criminal judge presiding over Oak Run Elementary School issues in the future and such behavior constitutes harassment.

Dolores Lucero.

Conservative Activist or Infamous Agitator?

Sometimes the journalist needs to break through the imaginary barrier between writer and audience and insert himself into the story. This is one of those times.

On Dec. 18, two weeks after the Oak Run School lockdown, Dolores Lucero called me and excitedly asked, “Do you want a story?!”

Of course I did. Lucero calls me every now and then with a news tip, sometimes the tip pans out. Lucero alerted me to the Fair Political Practices Commission’s investigation into Kevin Crye’s finances, which was sparked by FPPC complaints filed individually by Recall Crye organizer Jeff Gorder and Lucero.

On the phone, Lucero told me she’d been working directly with SCOE superintendent Judy Flores and business director Jessica Bigby on a case involving a school superintendent who had stolen funds from the school, including $3000 cash from the parent’s club.

(I didn’t know it at the time, but as noted above, Livingston was cleared by the Shasta County Sheriff of any financial wrongdoing on Nov. 13, more than a month before my phone conversation with Lucero.)

In addition, Lucero claimed the school superintendent’s husband, who she said sometimes drives the Oak Run school bus, was a convicted sex offender who had failed to register with the state as required by law.

A crooked school superintendent and an unregistered sex offender: Sounded like a story to me!

Lucero said she was just leaving a meeting with SCOE and was on her way to the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office to share her evidence with them. She later emailed me several documents that supposedly proved her case.

The first document I opened was a 13-page 2019 Shasta County Superior Court criminal case concerning Leo Webb Livingston, Misti Livingston’s husband. He pled no contest to multiple felonies resulting from a drunk driving accident in which he injured another person before fleeing the scene.

Under the terms of Leo Livingston’s plea deal, two of the felonies were dropped, but he still received significant punishment, including two days in jail, 120 days on the alternative work program, thousands of dollars in fines and restitution and the surrender of his driver’s license until completion of an alcohol education program. Felony hit-and-run drunk driving is a serious crime.

However, it’s not a sex offense. I scanned and re-scanned the document trying to discern what Lucero was talking about until I spotted what I think is her mistake.

When attorneys give clients forms to sign, they’ll often “x” out the lines and boxes for signatures and initials that aren’t required so their clients don’t inadvertently sign items to which they haven’t agreed. That’s exactly what Livingston’s attorney did in this case.When Lucero examined this document, she came to the section that requires the convicted criminal, if applicable, to register as an arson offender, a gang member, a narcotics offender or a sex offender. The boxes were all x’d out because they didn’t apply to Livingston’s case. But Lucero apparently misinterpreted this to mean Leo Livingston was a sex offender.

She checked the state’s online sex offender registry, didn’t find Leo Livingston’s name (because he’s not a sex offender) and presumed he had failed to register. She then passed this misinformation on to SCOE, the sheriff, me and God knows who else.

My stomach sank.

Lucero is known as an infamous Shasta County agitator—not just a “conservative activist” as I’ve been calling her lately—for a reason.

The former City of Shasta Lake councilwoman was recalled in 2012 and subsequently found guilty by a jury of felony election fraud. Lucero submitted falsified voter fraud claims against the recall campaign hoping to block the recall. She conned five City of Shasta Lake voters into signing false statements that she then submitted to the court and the police as authentic.

Lucero spent two weeks in jail, three years on probation and the charges have since been expunged. But the agitator remains. Today she’s best known for her impassioned sometimes borderline slanderous speeches during public comment time at Shasta County Board of Supervisor meetings and various school board meetings across the county.

Lucero hasn’t falsified any of the documents she sent me as far as I can tell, but she still plays fast and loose with the information she digs up and spreads around the county like so much horse manure. That’s how false rumors mushroom into dominant narratives.

In the current climate where a significant number of people believe their children are being sexually groomed in public schools, I can think of few things worse than falsely accusing someone associated with a school of being an unregistered sex offender. When I discovered Lucero’s mistake, I immediately called her back and informed her that her allegation against Leo Livingston was mistaken.

Lucero refused to listen. She continues to spread falsehoods about the Livingstons despite being informed that none of it is true.

By email, I asked SCOE business director Jessica Bigby if she was aware that Lucero was spreading false allegations.

“Any allegations that fall under SCOE’s jurisdiction, we look into,” Bigby said.  “Any that do not we will pass along to the appropriate authorities.”

Apparently SCOE will pass the allegations along even if they’re patently false. I asked Bigby if Lucero and a disgruntled former employee (Lillian Gonzales, whom I did not mention by name) were providing the agency with information about Oak Run Elementary School.

“We have received information from many community members who have interest in Oak Run, much of which lies outside of our jurisdiction,” Bigby said.

That’s a ‘yes’ in case you were wondering.

Misti Livingston Meets the Mountain

The denizens of Oak Run sometimes refer to their home as “The Mountain,” though it’s not exactly clear which peak in the overlapping foothills 30 miles east of Redding they’re referring to. The bulk of the community live on individual farms and ranchettes and in clusters of homes scattered throughout dark forest connected by narrow winding roads that plunge up and down the foothills.

There is what can be called downtown Oak Run at the 90-degree bend in Oak Run to Fern Road where the Oak Run Country Store sits with its iconic Phillips 66 sign like some bygone relic from the golden age of American motoring. It’s a fully stocked country store and well worth a visit if you’re passing through.

There’s a cute little thrift store/library directly behind the store, and on the store’s left flank sits the U.S. Post Office.

The Oak Run Elementary School is across the road from the store and up the hill. There are two classrooms, one office, a very small library and a very small kitchen. There’s a garden and chickens to provide produce and eggs for breakfast and lunch at the one-school school district.

When superintendent/principal/special ed teacher Misti Livingston arrived at Oak Run Elementary School in July 2020, she says the school was completely dilapidated. She was told she was the school’s seventh principal in 10 years when she was hired. The starting salary for her 3-year contract was $67,000, with $5000 increases in the second and third years.

“There was not one single blade of green grass because the irrigation system had been damaged by contractors who put in the new well,” Livingston told A News Café. “There was not a mop bucket or mop to be found; the playground structure had mulch, rather than wood chips, that hadn’t been replaced in many years and was down to the hard dirt in some places; the tools to fix things were very scarce, old, and rusted; and the roofs were leaking in several different places.”

Yet as rundown as the school was, when Livingston conducted her initial interviews with staff, they were unanimous about the first thing that needing fixing: The student behavior crisis that was consuming all the school’s time. She didn’t fully understand the problem until school started and the students arrived. She immediately put three things in place:

A calm space in every classroom for individual students to retreat to in times of need to help them become regulated when unregulated.

A Behavior Incident Reporting system to recognize patterns of behaviors on campus and to figure out whole school systems to put in place to help students.

Morning Social/Emotional (SEL) meetings every Monday and Friday that taught positive character traits, as a proactive strategy.

“In addition to all of that, the students were not learning California state standards,” Livingston said. “Not one student in the K-2nd grade class was reading or writing. The teacher at the time said they were not ready for that.”

“The only class that had students learning state standards out of the three was the 6th-8th grade class, in which the teacher was very challenged because she had to catch the students up from being in the previous grade-level teacher’s care, often from the second grade-level, and teach them grade level work at the same time,” Livingston elaborated.

After her hire, those problems were also quickly addressed, Livingston said. The school has since turned its abysmal academic record around. The COVID-19 pandemic was surging in Shasta County at the time Livingston arrived, but Oak Run Elementary School was able to stay open and provide vital support to its families throughout the pandemic.

One day in late December during the holiday break, I sat down with Livingston and TK-2 grade teacher Kathy Borders and 4-8 teacher Michelle Zollars at Oak Run Elementary School. The challenges they face serving Oak Run’s impoverished students at the perennially cash-strapped school are formidable.

“There are too many homeless families,” Livingston said, who fills in as teacher for the grades Borders and Zollars don’t cover. “I drive my own car down into The Hole to get them and bring them to school.”

The dirt road that leads down into The Hole features tight switchbacks with huge potholes that eat mufflers for lunch. Some families can’t make it out of The Hole. Every year, Livingston trucks in thousands of gallons of potable water from the school to families who have no running water supply. There’s a washer and dryer at the school for students to wash their clothes. At times, she’s used her own money to buy groceries for families without food.

“We purchase fuel for families at the Oak Run Store so they can survive the snowy winters with their generators,” Livingston said. “These people’s lives depend on this little school.”

Livingston and the two teachers sat around a table in a classroom as they assembled files to send in response to a request from Bigby, SCOE’s senior executive business director. Lucero’s last visit to the campus on Dec. 4 was still fresh in their minds.

“You’re stealing money from the children, you’re a child abuser!” Livingston said shaking her head and recalling Lucero’s tortured logic.

Borders, AKA “Ms. Honeybee,” perhaps because of her sometimes-stinging wit, objected when I referred to Lucero as a conservative activist.

“I’m a conservative,” she said. “That’s not a conservative.”

Kathy “Ms. Honeybee” Borders and her Oak Run Elementary School colleague Andrea Sellers.

Why Oak Run Elementary School Stumbled

The way superintendent/principal/designated substitute teacher Misti Livingston sees it, Oak Run Elementary School’s current predicament is the result of a hostile work environment created by two disgruntled former employees, cook Kerrie Stomps and community coordinator Lillian Gonzales; Lillian’s stepmom Georgia DeLarge; an out-of-town parent, Maghan Hunt, the former president of the now dissolved Parent’s Club; and Dolores Lucero.

Livingston said that Gonzales’ children and the children she wanted to take out of Oak Run and home school did not have proof of their children’s immunizations and had therefore registered for independent study with the school as was its policy.

“The family originally enrolled in independent study because their kids are unvaccinated,” Livingston explained. “So, we had to teach them in a different room. Now, I’m committing fraud because they are enrolled in independent study? What am I supposed to do?!”

“Lillian, Georgia and Kerrie Stomp are using the vaccine issue to shut the school down,” Livingston said. “They’re against vaccine mandates. They’re against the government. But they’re using both to try and shut the school down. They want to turn it into a community center they can use for their home school students.”

A News Café attempted to contact Lillian Gonzales and Georgia DeLarge but was unable to leave messages with either woman because the mailboxes on their phones weren’t set up.

Oak Run Elementary School.

Complicating matters further is Livingston’s belief that SCOE supports closing Oak Run Elementary School as part of a plan to close rural school districts being formulated by the Committee on School District Reorganization.

SCOE spokesperson Kerri Schuette said that the agency is proud of the diversity of its 24 districts, which range from small rural schools like Oak Run to large high schools in Redding, Anderson and Shasta Lake City. She said the county’s open enrollment policy promotes parental choice. “SCOE has no intention of closing down Oak Run School,” Schuette said.

Livingston finds that hard to believe, considering her school’s circumstances. In her view SCOE has deserted the school since Oak Run’s longtime school secretary Tiffany Fulkerson abruptly resigned last July.

According to Livingston, Fulkerson handled the heavy workload on the business side of the school, while she handled the heavy workload on the production side, making sure hungry students are fed, filling the teaching gaps Ms. Honeybee and the rest of the staff can’t cover, picking up students from The Hole, and her superintendent, principal and special education duties.

“I needed help with 35 things that Ms. Fulkerson took care of,” Livingston told A News Café, recalling the school secretary’s sudden departure. Livingston provided A News Café with the list, an alphabet soup of programs defined by acronyms, and dozens of emails she sent and received from SCOE.

“I reached out [to SCOE], via email, for assistance with 19 things just to get us through to the beginning of the upcoming schoolyear,” she said. “In that list were ‘General Office Procedures’ and ‘All things Human Resources.’ … We planned to ask about immunization record requirements when we received help for the General Office Procedures and the Human Resources procedures.”

Livingston says that help never came from SCOE. Although the agency did provide some assistance to the district in other areas, she and her staff feel abandoned.

“Having to do superintendent duties, principal duties, special education duties, in addition to teaching 50 percent because the lack of teachers willing to teach multiple grade-levels and travel this far out and learning all of this on my own—to say I was overloaded is a grand understatement,” Livingston said. “I came to work at 6 a.m. and left work at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. to try to figure it all out on my own, with virtually no help from SCOE.”

But that’s not all according to Livingston. During the past year, Stomps, first in conjunction with a teacher Livingston dismissed at the end of 2022-23 school year, then with Gonzales when she was hired in October, repeatedly undermined school staff, including Livingston.

For example, Livingston said Stomps made repeated allegations to Shasta County Health and Human Services, including one in which Livingston says she posed her own dog in the school cafeteria to bolster her claim the school allowed animals in eating spaces. All these claims were proven false, Livingston says.

Stomps resigned from Oak Run Elementary School after her friend Gonzales was terminated. The phone number on file for Stomps has been disconnected and A News Café was unable to contact her.

During her short month as community coordinator, Livingston says Gonzales told parents, students and Ms. Honeybee that she had her own curriculum that was far superior to anything taught at Oak Run Elementary School. In reality, her curriculum consisted of random free home school lesson plans downloaded from the internet, as Ms. Honeybee pointed out in a letter sent to SCOE.

As two sheriff’s reports and ORESD board minutes show, there’s no question that the school had become a hostile workplace by this past November.

Gonzales, Stomps and Hunt were all members of the Parents Club, which raised money for the school. In her letter to SCOE, Ms. Honeybee said she repeatedly warned the trio about the club’s lackadaisical bookkeeping practices. On another occasion when Ms. Honeybee criticized Stomps about an art show, the school’s cook retaliated by giving Ms. Honeybee’s students a bag of moldy oranges for snack time.

According to Ms. Honeybee, the cook gave her class this moldy sack of Cuties for snack time. Superintendent Misti Livingston was not impressed.

According to Livingston, the Parents Club kept a cashbox in the school safe along with a checkbook. The school’s checkbook was in the safe as well. Last July, after longtime secretary Fulkerson resigned, Livingston took over the billpaying and accidentally used the Parents Club checkbook to pay two vendors small three-figure sums.

The mistake boomeranged when her accusers used it to paint her as a thief.

Last fall, Livingston said, then-Parents Club president Hunt attended the annual ice cream social fundraiser and took the cashbox home instead of directly to the bank. Soon after, Hunt began alleging that Livingston had stolen money from the cashbox. What no one knew at the time was Hunt had replaced the Parents Club nonprofit tax ID number with her own nonprofit tax ID number.

When A News Café contacted Hunt, she admitted she had accused Livingston of theft. When asked if the former Oak Run Parents Club president had any financial records to back up her claim, she said, “No comment” and ended the interview.

On Nov. 6, Gonzales confronted Livingston with the two Parents Club checks the superintendent had mistakenly signed in July. According to Livingston, it was the first time she’d been made aware of the mistake; after which she addressed the issue at the Nov. 8 board meeting, explaining that the club would be reimbursed.

Also addressed at the board meeting was the Parents Club itself, which Bigby had encouraged Livingston to disband on several occasions. In the past the ORESD board unanimously voted to keep the club open. But confronted with the knowledge that Hunt had changed the club’s tax ID number to her own number, they unanimously voted to dissolve the club, as indicated in the meeting minutes.

Right around the same time, Livingston dismissed Gonzales as community coordinator for multiple infractions of the school’s rules. One week later, on Nov. 13, Gonzales called the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office and accused Livingston of stealing from the Booster’s Club, citing the two checks Livingston had mistakenly written last July as the evidence.

“Gonzales further spoke about her and Livingston’s relationship being strained due to Gonzales having her employment at the school terminated,” Deputy Roberts reported. “Gonzales told me she was upset with Livingston regarding the termination and further stated that Livingston was ‘choosing this.’ ”

As reported above, Deputy Roberts cleared Livingston of any financial wrongdoing. Not one of Livingston’s accusers returned the deputy’s calls. No proof of any financial crime has been offered.

“Although Livingston made the mistake of writing checks which she had no authority to write, it is not apparent or obvious Livingston had the intent which is required to be charged with PC 476-fraud,” Deputy Roberts reported. “Livingston had taken proper steps to reimburse the Parents Club when she was made aware of her mistake.”

Yet Dolores Lucero, Hunt and SCOE continue to allege she misappropriated funds from the district. Asked if SCOE was aware that Livingston had been cleared by the sheriff of any financial wrongdoing, Bigby evaded the answer.

“A reference to these complaints was included in our letter in an effort to inform the board,” Bigby said via email. “It is the duty of the board to monitor and act on that issue.”

Again, it’s worth pointing out that Bigby also sent the lack of going concern letter with numerous false allegations to top officials at the CDE who will ultimately decide Livingston’s fate as Oak Run superintendent.

Frustrated with Gonzales and Lucero’s repeated disruptive incursions on her campus and disorderly behavior at school board meetings in November and December, Livingston attempted to restrict access to some of her would-be usurpers to protect her students. She was surprised to discover she doesn’t have the power to protect her students from the boorish behavior of obnoxious adults.

Most of the other allegations made by SCOE in the going concern letter, such as a “great number of violations of the Brown Act” appear to have occurred, can be chalked up to Fulkerson’s abrupt resignation and the subsequent loss of her institutional knowledge, including accessing the many various websites used in managing school districts.

For example, Oak Run Elementary School was unable to post open school board positions on the internet, one of the alleged Brown Act violations. No one knew how to access the school’s website and post on it. Instead, Livingston posted a flier for the openings at the school office. She said a SCOE representative told her the flier satisfied Brown Act requirements, given the circumstances.

Similarly, SCOE alleged that at least one Oak Run Elementary School employee hadn’t completed the state’s mandatory training videos. But as Livingston points out, after Fulkerson left, the school was unable to access the training videos on the state’s website. She says all staff are now up to date on training videos.

SCOE claimed that Oak Run Elementary School had received two unsatisfactory CHP terminal inspections for drug and alcohol testing compliance. Livingston discovered Fulkerson had unenrolled the school, which had received one unsatisfactory inspection, not two. She says the school is enrolled once again and is now in full compliance.

Bigby agreed that Oak Run Elementary School District is now in full compliance with CHP drug and alcohol testing.

While virtually all the issues raised in SCOE’s lack of going concern letter have been addressed by Livingston, the most serious allegation against her remains the school’s immunization records in relation to its average daily attendance claims. That decision isn’t up to the ORESD board; it’s in the hands of the California Department of Education, which Livingston says has been prejudiced against her by SCOE.

“Our office has been in contact with the California Department of Education regarding the immunization requirements and related penalty and funding concerns,” Bigby said.  “They will be reviewing the work and audits that are performed moving forward and they will determine the magnitude of the penalty.”

Livingston intends to fight the good fight no matter what happens.

“Small schools struggle because we do not get the support, in any way, to survive,” she said. “And yet we are so very important to our communities’ livelihood. That is the only reason that I am here fighting against this. The people need the school services.”

And if Oak Run Elementary School District closes?

“The students will disappear!” she said. “They will not go to city schools. They will just disappear.”


If you appreciate investigative journalist R.V. Scheide’s dogged research and reporting, won’t you please consider supporting A News Cafe with a donation or subscription? Thank you!

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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