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Teacher says trustee has a history of intimidation, bullying at schools

Terri Craig filed a complaint with district against Rick Badillo in 2013

Published in the June 8 – 21, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Marty Cheek and Robert Airoldi

At least one MHUSD teacher has filed a formal complaint about trustee Rick Badillo with the district. Terri Craig, the district’s 2012 Teacher of the Year, filed a complaint about Badillo’s “bullying” treatment of her when she was working as a longterm substitute teacher at Jackson Academy of Math and Music. She described to Morgan Hill Life how she was returning to her classroom while the children were at recess and found Badillo standing outside in the open doorway. She asked if she might help him, thinking that he was a parent.

“He whirled around and started yelling at me, just so cold,” said the now retired teacher of the incident in 2013. “He was pointing into my classroom at a box and he was yelling, ‘We’ve got a big problem! We’ve got a big problem here!’ I am literally going, ‘What? What is the problem?’ And he’s pointing at my ball box which was just sitting there.”

Badillo told her: “That ball box says ‘room 10,’ and this is room 11,” she recalled.

At first, Craig thought it was a joke. Then he stuck his finger into her face and demanded to know her name, upsetting her, she said. She told him, “I’m Mrs. Craig.”

He put his hand out and said, “I’m Rick Badillo.” “He then turned and walked away, heading into the classroom next door to attend a Project Cornerstone anti-bullying meeting,” Craig said.

Shaken, she went to the front office where she talked to Principal Patrick Buchser. She wanted to let the incident go at first, but Buchser told her to inform the district office because Badillo is a school board member, she said. Craig called Julie Zintsmaster, assistant at that time to the superintendent. As the two women talked on the phone, the inside classroom door opened and she again saw Badillo. After school, most of the teachers were gone and she felt nervous.

“At first he didn’t see me. He was just scanning my room. And then he saw me and he just stared at me,” she recalled. “He didn’t say anything. He didn’t ask, ‘Can I talk to you?’ He didn’t say, ‘Do you have a minute?” He just stared at me… it was probably not a long time but it seemed like forever. And then he just turned and walked away.”

Zintsmaster told her to get her purse and keys and leave the classroom immediately.

“At that point, I decided what he did was really intimidation, so I filed a formal written complaint,” she said.

Craig had a meeting with Badillo and Superintendent Steve Betando. She told him why she filed the complaint, that it was inappropriate for him to yell at her, that he was usurping his power as a board member to come and tell her as an employee about her classroom management. She described his response as simply looking through her.

“Basically, all he did was turn and look at Steve and say, ‘So what happens with this now? Where does this go now?’” she recalled.