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Morgan Hill
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January 18, 2022

MHUSD Trustee insults board, supe in emails

A trustee on the Morgan Hill Unified School District’s governing body sent out numerous emails to a former community activist with insulting remarks and satirical innuendoes about four fellow board members and the superintendent.
First-year Trustee David Gerard refers to Board President Bob Benevento as “Bozo,” Superintendent Steve Betando as “Slimy Stevie” and then-trustee Amy Porter-Jensen as “Bully PJ” in an Oct. 13 email sent to residents Rob Guynn and Karen Fitch as well as trustees Rick Badillo and Gino Borgioli.
In that same email, Gerard describes Vice President Ron Woolf’s “elephantine lumbering out of the board room to go to the pisspot every time it’s my turn to talk” (Woolf is diabetic) and Trustee Donna Ruebusch’s “classic fingernails-scraping-the-chalkboard-voice.”
He goes into even more detail about Porter-Jensen, describing “Bully PJ’s absurd big ass catwalk through the middle of the audience as Slimy Stevie licks his chops as he watches her slut shoes.”
This and more was uncovered by the Morgan Hill Times once the district released hundreds of emails Nov. 30 between board members and three community activists (Guynn, his wife Monica Guynn and Karen Fitch) in response to this newspaper’s public records request.
“I’m very sorry that this happened. I apologize to anybody who feels offended. I’m not at liberty to talk about the things that were said to me by others. I’d like to take full ownership of what I wrote,” Gerard told the Times when asked for a comment. “This was not serious….It was not intended for anyone but the recipient.”
The intent of the request was to reveal the email exchange between Porter-Jensen and Rob Guynn that factored into her decision to resign and file a temporary restraining order against the former leader of the recall movement. However, it also brought to light Gerard’s behind-the-scenes encouragement of recall proponents and his antipathy toward district staff and board colleagues. While the Times is still looking through the sheaf of public records, a review of Gerard’s communications show he eagerly participated in a dialogue, using his district email account, that was riddled with slurs hurled at his detractors and praise for the recall proponents.
Trustee concocts fake crime story
“I’m embarrassed for him and I’m embarrassed for the district,” said Betando, after being briefed on Gerard’s emails. “As leaders on the governing team, collectively and individually, they are examples for the community and for the students. That’s the most troubling part of what I’m hearing.”
The seven-member board, as well as Betando, are in San Diego this week for the 2015 California School Boards Association’s annual conference. Borgioli, Ruebusch and Woolf could not be reached for comment by deadline.
“I think it’s best not to comment at this time,” said Benevento through text messaging after being informed of Gerard’s emails.
Badillo, who claimed to be unfamiliar with the content of certain emails that were sent to him, described Gerard’s messages as “immature and childish…(but) his opinion.”
“I want to get past all this and do what we need to for the kids,” Badillo said.
In an Oct. 9 email titled “Do not forward,” Gerard—a certified psychologist voted to the board in November 2014—concocts a phony “YAHOO NEWS” report centered around Betando and Benevento fictitiously resigning and fleeing the country “in wake of an undercover investigation that has uncovered massive system-wide corruption.”
“Betando was reportedly accompanied by 19-year-old Mexican model Angelita Morales Garcia, who was wanted in southern Mexico for drug smuggling and prostitution,” wrote Gerard to Guynn in his fake crime story. “Police reported that Benevento fled California with $16.7 million in school district funds.”
Gerard said Dec. 2 the tale was just a way to cheer up Guynn who was sick and depressed on his birthday.
“I said to myself I’m going to make this guy cheer up and write something that’s so over the top outrageous that he’d spit up in laughter,” Gerard explained. “It’s something that I shouldn’t have written. I’m going to be raked over the coals and deserve to be.”
The revealing emails are the latest in a series of unflattering events centered around MHUSD and its board of education. Feuding among trustees and accusations of Brown Act violations directed at the superintendent and board president have become commonplace at public meetings. The Morgan Hill Police have gotten involved, stationing an officer in the audience during board meetings. Borgioli accused Benevento of assaulting him in a Sept. 15 closed session, but the district attorney declined to press charges against Benevento.
The board has split 4-3 on several high-profile decisions, including one in August to move sixth graders into the middle schools. That decision upset some vocal residents who formed a community group that is attempting to remove Benevento through a recall.
Gerard, along with Badillo and Borgioli, voted against the sixth-grade switch while Benevento, Ruebusch, Woolf and Porter-Jensen (who was still on the board at the time) voted in favor of the district’s grade level reconfiguration. Porter-Jensen resigned from the board in late October.
In other emails, Gerard encouraged Guynn and the district’s antagonists to continue with their recall efforts and even compared them to the leaders of the civil rights movement.
In a Sept. 6 email, Gerard compares Fitch—a parent who regularly and publicly speaks of her mistrust of Betando and Benevento—to Rosa Parks “who refused to ride in the back of the bus!” He also casts Betando as Governor George Wallace “who stood on the doorsteps to stop black university students.” He compares himself to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy “who ordered federal troops in there to enforce the law.”
In another email exchange, Gerard suggests that Guynn—a photographer who says he has worked for the NFL—set Betando up with a San Francisco 49ers cheerleader. Gerard tells him to “take pictures of them and he’s finished in Morgan Hill.” Mixed within a discussion on the new trustee area election system and Paradise Valley as a K-8 site, Guynn replies: “By the way, I know a lot of gold rush cheerleaders…And they owe me a lot of favors.”
Gerard made a point to say that these emails were written in a time of much conflict among board members and they’ve made great strides since then.
“I think everyone is tired of the fighting,” he said. “I hope this incident will not exacerbate the things from the past.”
Porter-Jensen’s resignation
A once amicable relationship between Porter-Jensen and Guynn turned sour after March 2015, resulting in the filing of a temporary restraining order and the trustee’s resignation.
Porter-Jensen left the school board in late October, citing unwanted emails from Guynn as a major part of her decision to resign one year prior to her term expiring. At the same time, she was granted a temporary restraining order by a San Jose judge.
“It was a dysfunctional situation that I felt I had to completely remove myself from,” said Porter-Jensen of why she resigned.
Guynn, who was never criminally charged or arrested due to the complaint, denied any harassment toward Porter-Jensen. The petition was dismissed when Porter-Jensen failed to appear at a Nov. 17 court date.
“All I was trying to do is change sixth grade configuration and make the district a better place,” Guynn said. “I was told Amy Porter-Jensen was a swing vote and was just trying to convince her to change her vote.”
Guynn, an early leader in the recall movement who served Benevento with the petition, said he is happily married and was not making any sort of romantic advances toward the school board member.
However, after a series of back-and-forth emails between the two dating back to March 2015, Porter-Jensen was troubled by the content of an Oct. 11 message from Guynn at 2:47 a.m.
“Okay, you got me…I am a bit confused…don’t trust you, but I want to. Thinking of you but I don’t want to. Can’t sleep, but I want to. This is what you want right? Get in my head…don’t know you, but I want to,” wrote Guynn.
Now removed from the recall effort, Guynn explained that at the time he felt he was being set up by Porter-Jensen.
Porter-Jensen pointed to the late-night e-mail titled “Personal” as the reason she notified police and ended all communication with Guynn.
On Oct. 12, Porter-Jensen replied that she is not playing games, and called his email inappropriate. Guynn replied he would not bother her anymore, and the interaction ceased.
Guynn sent 27 emails addressed only to Porter-Jensen from March 13 to Oct. 12, according to the records released by the school district. She was also included on other messages sent to the entire board during that same time frame, but Guynn did not contact her via email after Oct. 12.

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