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Antioch school supervisor placed on leave after NBC Bay Area worker bullying report

Antioch Unified School District Director of Maintenance, Operations and Facilities Kenneth (Ken) Turnage has been placed on administrative leave following an NBC Bay Area investigation into employee bullying claims.

According to an AUSD board member, the district’s five board trustees received a message from their human resources director saying Turnage was placed on leave three days after this news organization’s report on April 17.

The story spotlighted allegations that Turnage moved a maintenance worker’s desk to a roof to humiliate him – on district time and using school resources. NBC Bay Area confirmed at least nine other district workers have reported Turnage to district officials for bullying. The accusations span months and include claims that Turnage constantly demeaned, insulted and shouted at them. Three workers said they had to go on medical leave for stress caused by Turnage. One employee said he felt physically threatened when it appeared Turnage charged at him during an argument.

AUSD Director Kenneth Turnage and the desk he’s accused of putting on a roof.

NBC Bay Area has reached out to Turnage several times but has not received a response.

Several of the workers who spoke with NBC Bay Area say Turnage was not held properly accountable, and they know why.

“Oh, because of his relationship with the superintendent,” said Steve Hessler who is a carpenter for AUSD.

“Because of this relationship with the superintendent’s husband and the superintendent,” said Bruce Courtemanche who said he was forced to retire early as the district’s locksmith after being mistreated by Turnage.

“Ken Turnage is still there because of his relationship with the superintendent,” said Jim Kesser who is the AUSD maintenance worker whose desk was moved to the roof.

 Since NBC Bay Area’s report, the Board President Antonio Hernandez has called for Superintendent Stephanie Anello’s resignation, which she has not publicly responded to. In an internal email to other district officials, Anello said she called for two independent investigations into the allegations. One investigation will be on the overall employee concerns, Anello wrote, and another will look at specific complaints filed against Turnage detailed in NBC Bay Area’s report.

After concerns of Anello’s involvement in the investigations surfaced – since she would be one of the subjects of the investigation – Anello recused herself from the process. AUSD’s Human Resources Director Robert Martinez said in a press release that he will assume the responsibility of overseeing the investigations and communication with board members.

Both Anello and Martinez have said the investigations will be independent and conducted by a third party, but when the Investigative Unit repeatedly asked who will be conducting the investigations, neither Anello nor Martinez responded the question.

At the school district’s next school board meeting this Wednesday at 7pm, Board President Hernandez told NBC Bay Area he plans to call for a vote to remove Superintendent Anello from her position over these allegations.

AUSD Superintendent Stephanie Anello

NBC Bay Area has reached out to Anello for comment but has not received a response.

Catch up on our reporting on AUSD:

Part 1: Antioch Unified boss ‘bully’ put worker’s desk on roof, employees say

Part 2: Antioch school official calls for superintendent resignation after KNTV worker bullying report

Part 3: Antioch superintendent calls for bullying investigation, board trustees question her involvement

Part 4: Antioch superintendent removes herself from overseeing bullying investigations after KNTV report

Part 5: Antioch community voices concerns about bullying claims against school supervisor

Candice Nguyen is leading this news investigation. If you’d like to contact her about this story or have another investigative tip, e-mail candice.nguyen@nbcuni.com. 

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Source: NBC Bay Area

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