2020-2021 San Joaquin County Grand Jury Releases Report on SUSD Board of Trustees

On July 21, 2021, the San Joaquin County 2020-2021 Civil Grand Jury released its report investigating the Stockton Unified School District Board of Trustees (SUSD). The most important responsibility of the Board of Trustees is to recruit, hire, and retain a superintendent to lead the district with a long-range vision for district programs and activities that focus on the achievement and well-being of all students.

The 2020-2021 Grand Jury received numerous complaints concerning the dysfunction of the SUSD Board of Trustees. Additionally, there have been media accounts describing conflicts within the district, especially among board members. After reviewing these complaints and media reports, the Grand Jury opened an investigation into the SUSD Board of Trustees.

In its investigation, the Grand Jury conducted 37 interviews, performed on-site visits, and reviewed relevant materials to ascertain the underlying causes of the dysfunction within the administration. Over the past 15 years, SUSD has had a revolving door of superintendents that made it difficult, if not impossible, for changes that lead to increased student achievement to take effect. The Grand Jury found the Trustees misunderstood and disregarded their roles and responsibilities, ignored best hiring practices, violated governance norms, and lacked transparency and public accessibility. Trustees abused their leadership roles to pursue personal disagreements between members and the frequent turnover of superintendents made it easier for board members to act inappropriately and, at times, exceed the limits of their authority.

The Grand Jury recommends the Board of Trustees publicly and officially affirm their commitment to change, adhere to their own standards of governance, and provide transparency and accountability to the public.

The public is encouraged to read the complete report by visiting the Grand Jury’s website.

2020-2021 San Joaquin County Grand Jury Report on the City of Manteca: A City Government in Turmoil

On July 15, 2021, the San Joaquin County 2020-2021 Civil Grand Jury released its report investigating the City of Manteca. The Civil Grand Jury’s duty is to address citizens’ concerns regarding the operation of local government entities. The city government of Manteca is led by a Mayor, City Council, and a City Manager who, collectively, manage the City’s finance, fire, police, public works, and parks and recreation departments.

The 2019-2020 Grand Jury opened an investigation into the City of Manteca after receiving several complaints but was unable to complete it during its term. Since then, the City of Manteca has been the subject of numerous media reports about the loss of several key employees in a noticeably short period of time, and more recently, reports in reference to serious financial issues. The 2020-2021 Grand Jury received additional complaints from concerned residents and decided to open an investigation. In its investigation, the Grand Jury conducted more than 20 interviews with city management, staff, and members of the city council. The Grand Jury also reviewed documents, media accounts, and relevant internet websites.

The Grand Jury found an overall lack of leadership, due to the promotions of unqualified individuals into executive-level positions, created a dysfunctional administration that failed to effectively manage city operations and fostered a hostile working environment leaving staff overworked and fearful for their jobs. The mayor was elected in November 2018 by Manteca voters and followed through on campaign promises to rid the city of department heads that were perceived to be slowing down progress. The newly appointed executives lacked the experience, qualifications, and financial acumen necessary for effective management of city operations resulting in inconsistent employment practices, insufficient training and development, and an uninformed reorganization plan that more experienced managers could have avoided.

The Grand Jury recommends the City of Manteca develop, implement, and adhere to a transparent set of personnel policies and procedures that will ensure institutional knowledge is maintained during periods of transition and employees are properly trained. Additionally, the City of Manteca should strengthen its auditing activities, internal and external, with better oversight by elected and appointed officials to avoid future financial blunders.
The public is encouraged to read the complete report by visiting the Grand Jury’s website.

California Judicial Mentor Program


Together with Stanislaus, Calaveras, and Tuolumne Counties, San Joaquin County is pleased to announce the launch of the California Judicial Mentor Program which all four counties will operate as a regional collaboration.

San Joaquin County Superior Court Presiding Judge Xapuri B. Villapudua and Assistant Presiding Judge Michael D. Coughlan announced the first of its kind California Judicial Mentor Program in Northern California in collaboration with the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom.  The program is modeled after a similar recently-launched program in Los Angeles and will connect mentor judges with local attorneys to increase the applicant pool for new judges.  The program’s intent is to bring the state closer to Governor Newsom’s goal of appointing highly capable judges reflective of the rich diversity of the state.   “We look forward to working with Governor Newsom’s Judicial Appointments Secretary Luis Cespedes in his efforts to encourage and support qualified applicants seeking judicial appointments.  Our Court supports a highly qualified, diverse, and inclusive judiciary,” Presiding Judge Villapudua said.  Secretary Cespedes said the program “IS A CRITICAL STEP TO ENSURING EQUAL ACCESS TO JUDICIAL MENTORSHIP FOR ATTORNEYS CONSIDERING APPLYING TO THE BENCH.”

The program pairs local attorneys committed to public service with judges who will help demystify the judicial appointment process, answer questions about the application and vetting process, and suggest new skills and experiences to improve suitability for appointment.

The program will work with local bar associations, nonprofit legal organizations, government lawyers, law firms, and solo practitioners to identify and encourage promising judicial candidates to apply for appointments.  The goal will be to mentor them in their development, thus creating a pipeline of highly qualified applicants eligible for appointment.

To learn more about the program, visit the San Joaquin County Superior Court’s website.