A headshot of Moreno Valley Unified School District Superintendent Martinrex Kedziora over a photo of the MVUSD administration building.
The Moreno Valley Unified School District voted 3-2 Tuesday night to fire Superintendent Martinrex Kedziora. (MVUSD photos)

The Moreno Valley Unified School District Tuesday night voted to terminate Superintendent Martinrex Kedziora’s contract without cause on a 3-2 vote. It was not immediately clear how each of the board members voted.

Board President Susan Smith thanked Kedziora for his years of service to the district and said that he had “exhibited a real love for the students and the families of our district.” However, she noted that it was “time for a change in direction.”

“We look forward to moving ahead with cabinet members, directors, principals and other staff members currently employed by the district,” she said. “We know that everyone will continue to do their best to meet all of the needs of our students and families. 

“Our district has been through some difficult times,” she continued. “But I know that by working together, we can help our students to move forward and continue to shine brighter with excellence on purpose.”

The board appointed Robert Verdi, the district’s chief human resources officer, as interim superintendent with three board members voting in favor and two abstaining. Smith said the board would discuss the interim superintendent contract at the board’s next regularly scheduled meeting.

Before the board went into closed session, they heard from more than two dozen speakers. The vast majority spoke in support of Kedziora, including parents, students and even former MVUSD Superintendent Judy White.

“When you weigh it, you’ll find that Dr. Kedziora needs to stay,” she said. “His absence, his leaving, will be more detrimental than him staying. There is pressure — and there’s always pressure from different groups — for you to make other decisions than what you know that is right, and I’m just saying do the right thing.”

The students who spoke praised Kedziora for his accessibility and willingness to help them find avenues for academic success including brothers Ethan, Kenneth and Donovan Morales.

“I’ve had the honor of talking to him a couple of times, and just seeing the actions he’s done for the students and the kids — renovating, building more buildings, making the schools nicer — I think just with that alone, his actions just show how much love and care he has for the students of this district,” Donovan said. “He really does care about the students, you can really see that.”

Parent Wendy Ashley echoed the brother’s sentiments, saying that she had written down pages of nice things she could say about Kedziora and the work he does in the district, but instead wanted to focus on how his departure would impact the community.

“What about the 30,000 students that will miss him that love him, as some of these students have said, what about them,” she said. “We’re going to punish them as a result of this? Let’s not punish our students. Let’s not punish our parents.”

The few who spoke out in support of removing Kedziora as superintendent brought up concerns about student achievement in the district as well as the recently announced $27 million settlement with the family of Diego Stolz, a 13-year-old boy was bullied, beaten and fatally attacked by two classmates four years ago

“It’s sad to say, but a lot of the times when something like this happens, the person that really is responsible is the superintendent, and we all know that,” Joanne Stephen said. “So this is why this issue has come up. A lot of people say they’re shocked about it; I wasn’t shocked about it.”

According to attorneys for the family, Diego’s family filed several complaints with administrators at Landmark Middle School about the bullying Diego faced. Despite the reports — including one just a few days before the fatal attack — the school did nothing, according to a statement released by the family’s attorneys.

“The family will forever be heartbroken by the death of Diego, but they hope this case brings about change in school districts across the country,” attorney Dave Ring said in the statement. “Schools need to realize that bullying can never be tolerated and that any complaints of bullying and assault must be taken seriously. Diego’s death was preventable if this school had simply prioritized an anti-bullying policy.”

A video of the meeting can be found here on MVUSD’s YouTube page.

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