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Latest News in Parlier, CA
‘Secret deal’ or ‘vendetta?’ Why Parlier Unified refuses to pay ex-superintendent nearly $250K
The Parlier Unified school board is trying to get out of paying a former superintendent as much as $250,000 because they say her separation agreement was approved illegally by a lame-duck school board.Altagracia Guerrero, the former superintendent who resigned late last year, is seeking a court order to enforce the agreement. According to her attorney, Guerrero hasn’t received a cent.The district’s board members meanwhile claim the separation agreement is invalid and say they shouldn’t have to honor it....
The Parlier Unified school board is trying to get out of paying a former superintendent as much as $250,000 because they say her separation agreement was approved illegally by a lame-duck school board.
Altagracia Guerrero, the former superintendent who resigned late last year, is seeking a court order to enforce the agreement. According to her attorney, Guerrero hasn’t received a cent.
The district’s board members meanwhile claim the separation agreement is invalid and say they shouldn’t have to honor it.
“The agreement was not lawfully approved,” said attorney Jimmy Gutierrez at the district’s most recent board meeting. The district hired Gutierrez on Jan. 10 specifically to review its separation agreement with Guerrero.
He said that the agreement wasn’t properly listed on the board’s closed session agenda at the Dec. 6 meeting where it was approved and that the board failed to disclose it before going into closed session that day, both of which he said violate the Brown Act, California’s laws open meeting laws for elected governing boards.
Despite that, the separation agreement was approved by trustees 4-1 with only board member Martin Mares voting against it during the Dec. 6 meeting.
Guerrero’s attorney, Barry Bennett, filed a petition Feb. 10, asking the court to order Parlier Unified to hold up their end of the bargain.
The agreement includes 12 months of Guerrero’s salary – which was over $193,000 toward the end of her tenure – plus benefits as well as 30 days of unused vacation time.
Bennett told the Ed Lab that the district has 30 days from when the petition was filed to respond, unless they request more time.
This brewing legal battle is the latest in a series of recent controversies the board of the small district of just under 3,500 students is facing regarding recent superintendents.
It also has renewed tensions between Trustee Eric Molina and the rest of the board.
During discussion of the separation agreement’s validity, he called it not only a waste of taxpayer money but questioned whether it arose from a “personal vendetta against Dr. Guerrero.”
Other trustees doubled down on why they hired Gutierrez to investigate.
“I think it is our due diligence as a board to continue with it,” said board member Elena Gonzales, “not a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
Guerrero’s Dec. 6 separation agreement was approved during the final meeting the outgoing board of trustees, following’s November’s mid-term elections.
That board was led by Eric Molina and Joe Vasquez, the previous board’s respective president and vice president. Elizabeth Tienda, Gonzales, and Mares were also on the board prior to the election.
The election changed the makeup of the board – as well as its power dynamics, some say. Two challengers, Nathaniel Cid and Mary “Dee Dee” Sanchez replaced incumbents as Vasquez lost his bid for re-election and Tienda didn’t seek another term.
Mares and Gonzales became the new board president and vice president respectively in December.
Before the new board was sworn in, Guerrero approached the sitting trustees with a proposal, according to the petition from her lawyer.
She suggested she resign, despite having received a contract extension through June 2024, “to give the incoming Board members an opportunity to select a District Superintendent of their own choice,” according to the petition.
In exchange, she sought a partial payment of her salary and benefits.
The petition claims the board drew up a separation agreement “with the assistance of District counsel” and approved it at a “duly-agendized and noticed” meeting Dec. 6, during which the board was notified in open session about the agreement.
A resolution the Parlier Unified board approved 4-1 at their Feb. 21 meeting, on the other hand, claims the Dec. 6 meeting agenda didn’t list the separation agreement on the closed or public session portions, nor did the board’s president at the time, Molina, disclose it before going into closed session or immediately after returning to public session.
Molina was the only trustee to vote against the resolution Feb. 21.
The resolution notes that Molina later reported out a vote in closed session on a separation agreement while not naming Guerrero and instead giving an employee ID number.
Both Molina and Mares confirmed that the board consulted with the district’s legal counsel on the separation agreement – although the district’s new lawyer Gutierrez has taken a different stance.
“Just because an attorney approves a contract doesn’t mean that it’s correct,” Mares told the Ed Lab. “We have to adhere to all the bylaws and rules and governing policies, like the Brown Act, and make sure that ... we’re good stewards of our of our community’s resources.”
Mares added that the board took the initiative to freeze any payments to Guerrero while their attorney reviewed the separation agreement.
Bennett said he hasn’t heard from Parlier Unified’s legal counsel, nor was he present at the district’s last board meeting Feb. 21, so he wasn’t yet aware of what the district’s “objection” to the separation agreement is.
“I don’t acknowledge that there was one,” he said, regarding Parlier Unified’s allegation of Brown Act violations. “I spoke to Dr. Guerrero, and she said as far as she knows, it was done according to the Brown Act. So I guess we’ll find out.”
Molina criticized the board’s move regarding the separation agreement, calling it fiscally irresponsible.
“We can’t go back and change what a board has approved,” he said. “If that’s the case, I go back three years and change what the board approved three years ago. That is a violation.”
He also stated that everything the board did at the Dec. 6 meeting was done properly and in compliance with the Brown Act.
Sanchez, Gonzales, and Mares, on the other hand, thanked Gutierrez for his investigation into the separation agreement. Cid was absent from the meeting.
“We look forward to the revelations,” Mares said.
“It’s imperative that we do the right thing, and that is to protect our students and our community, our teachers and not to be providing any type of secret deal.”
Mares and Molina have also been at odds over the appointment of Guerrero’s successor Rafael Iñiguez, who previously served as the district’s Career Technical Education director.
He was chosen to replace Guerrero three days after her resignation. Molina criticized the board for not advertising the position or conducting a formal search, calling Iñiguez’s appointment “unethical.” Mares pushed back that the board has the legal prerogative to appoint a superintendent from inside the district or by conducting an outside search.
As for what’s next with the separation agreement, Bennett told the Ed Lab he expects Parlier Unified to respond in one of three ways.
The district’s attorneys can answer the petition with a defense as to why they don’t owe the money, as one option. Alternately, PUSD’s counsel could file a demurrer, citing some issue with the petition from Guerrero’s counsel. Or, their lawyers could motion for a summary judgment, as a third course of action.
No response was on file from Parlier Unified’s attorneys according to Fresno County Superior Court records Monday afternoon.
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GrubMarket Completes Acquisition of Custom Produce Sales; Mike Xu and Marvin Farris Comment
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Would you be surprised if I said GrubMarket has put yet another acquisition on the books? If you’re an avid reader of ANUK, the answer is probably no. The wholesaler has announced that it has completed the acquisition of Parlier, California-based Custom Produce Sales.“Marvin and his team have built Custom Produce Sales into a highly regarded fresh produce business that is loved by their growers and customers alike,” said Mike Xu, Chief Ex...
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Would you be surprised if I said GrubMarket has put yet another acquisition on the books? If you’re an avid reader of ANUK, the answer is probably no. The wholesaler has announced that it has completed the acquisition of Parlier, California-based Custom Produce Sales.
“Marvin and his team have built Custom Produce Sales into a highly regarded fresh produce business that is loved by their growers and customers alike,” said Mike Xu, Chief Executive Officer of GrubMarket. “Many of their major customers have been with them since the 1980s and ’90s, which is a testament to their strong business fundamentals and service-oriented approach to success. The company has also seen double-digit, year-over-year revenue growth while maintaining a sterling reputation for food safety, having received several top industry certifications. This acquisition enables GrubMarket to strengthen our position in the global food supply chain by offering more in-demand products 365 days a year and expanding our portfolio of high-value organic produce offerings. We are thrilled to welcome the Custom Produce Sales team to the GrubMarket family.”
In addition to its Parlier location, Custom Produce Sales also has warehouse facilities in Yuma, Arizona, and Salinas, California.
Custom Produce Sales’ impressive, cutting-edge warehouse facilities span over 200,000 square feet in space, a press release noted, including a spacious 10,000 square feet repacking room that gives the company the ability to provide premium services such as private brand labeling, special packs, barcode lot identification, product split packs, and advanced tracking.
“Though we started from humble beginnings, we have always taken pride in working hard and satisfying our customers’ needs,” said Marvin Farris, Founder of Custom Produce Sales. “For over three decades, we have built a strong reputation as a business that provides the highest quality produce, offers exceptional customer service, and holds a deep commitment to supporting the produce industry. We are excited to join the GrubMarket team, who shares our ‘one-stop/one-pick’ philosophy and cares as much as we do about cultivating strong and lasting relationships with both growers and customers. We are also keen on leveraging GrubMarket’s impressive ecosystem of businesses and accessing their technological capabilities to continue bringing more high-quality produce to GrubMarket’s end customers.”
Click here to read more about the recent acquisition.
As more industry updates pop up across the fresh sector, keep reading AndNowUKnow.
$3.2 million awarded to Parlier High School program
PARLIER, California (KSEE) – Parlier High School is building a new medical facility on its campus for students ...
PARLIER, California (KSEE) – Parlier High School is building a new medical facility on its campus for students eager to pursue a degree in the medical field and some might call it a Cinderella story in the town of less than 15,000 people.
“It’s like a dream come true, we’re going to have a brand new building, we’re going to get to design it–it’s all for the kids,” said Cynthia Acevedo, the Medical Pathway Instructor at Parlier High School.
Acevedo has been the instructor of the high school’s Valley Regional Occupational Medical Pathway’s program for six years. When the program started she had just two students and now has more than twenty and growing.
“Obviously right now with COVID going on, this is going to be a high demand job, you’re needing caretakers everywhere.”
Between a state grant and a match from the Parlier Unified School District, the amount awarded to Parlier High totals just under $3.2 million which will be used to build a medical facility on campus.
“It’s going to be amazing for the future students because it’s a brand new building, they’ll have much more room, they’ll get to do more hands-on skills,” Jennifer Peña-Ramirez said, a Senior at Parlier High School.
Working in just average-sized classrooms for the last few years, the new building will be more than 4,000 square feet–something Superintendent of Parlier Unified School District, Dr. Gracie Guerrero believes a top program deserves.
“We are number one in the whole county as far as having students complete the pathway. It is with immense pride that we can say that we can be able to prepare those future superheroes here in our own schools and the benefit overall is that the community itself is going to benefit.”
Groundbreak for the building is planned for March 2021 with the building completion within two years.
As Fresno waits on pot shops, Parlier opens dispensary. What to expect from Cannable
Cannable has spent almost two years delivering cannabis products from its headquarters in Parlier.In that time, the company has learned a thing or two.“We have all this data from the delivery service,” says Jeff Tuel, the company’s VP of sales and marketing.“We found,” he says, “that everybody likes cannabis.”He’s speaking tongue-in-cheek, certainly, but also pointing out a real, wide and growing customer base for weed products. On Thursday, Cannable held a grad open...
Cannable has spent almost two years delivering cannabis products from its headquarters in Parlier.
In that time, the company has learned a thing or two.
“We have all this data from the delivery service,” says Jeff Tuel, the company’s VP of sales and marketing.
“We found,” he says, “that everybody likes cannabis.”
He’s speaking tongue-in-cheek, certainly, but also pointing out a real, wide and growing customer base for weed products. On Thursday, Cannable held a grad opening for its brick-and-mortar dispensary on Manning Avenue in Parlier.
At less than 30 miles away, it becomes the closest physical dispensary for people in Fresno, as the city continues to work through licensing its cannabis businesses. At least one Fresno shop has applied for its conditional use permit and says it could be open by early spring.
Cannable already offers its full range of products for next-day delivery in the Fresno area, within a two-hour window. They also launched a new express menu, where customers can order direct from a list of what’s available in the delivery car closest to them.
Those deliveries can be made in less than 20 minutes, Tuel says.
The 3,000-square-foot store employs 20 people and allows Cannable to expands its stock of product lines, which customers can order for pre-paid pickup.
It will also fill a void in the education of its customers, Tuel says.
With the delivery service, customers are forced to reply on product descriptions or their limited interactions with the drivers, which the company likes to keep at a minimum for sake of speed.
“A lot of folks have questions on the delivery side: ‘Is five milligrams of cannabis lot? Is it too little?’”
Along with the delivery service and store, Cannable’s parent company, Greenbrier Holdings, also runs a manufacturing facility in Parlier, where it makes it own line of products from marijuana cultivated at a greenhouse farm in Santa Barbara.
Cannable’s branded products have names like Half Pipe and hit an underserved “value” market, Tuel says.
“We’re not trying to do anything fancy or shiny,” he says.
“We’re like the Jack Daniels of the cannabis industry.”
This story was originally published November 11, 2021, 3:02 PM.