STOCKTON- Stagg High School Principal Ben Nakamura told Fox News he believes the reason he was not renewed as a principal with Stockton Unified School District for the upcoming year was because of issues related to racism and his defense of a Black colleague. While the SUSD won’t comment on personnel matters per policy, the fact is that Nakamura was only principal for a year during distant learning due to Covid-19.
As we reported first, Nakamura, was escorted off campus by police and district administration concluding a graduation ceremony. While many have misconstrued the reason for his removal from school grounds being the content of his speech in which he began airing personal grievances with the District Administration over his employment status, documents we’ve obtained show it was actually because he his speech, regardless of what was said, violated school policy for all graduations due to Covid-19 precautions. No Principals were supposed to give speeches, not just him. Not even student leaders and valedictorians were allowed the opportunity.
Nakamura was made aware of this policy and chose not to adhere to it. in addition to violating the policy, the District tells us several parents did in fact also complain about the content.
“Successful people will do whatever it takes to stomp on other people”.
“This was highly inappropriate,”
said one mother. “My son worked hard during COVID and wanted this day to be about him and his fellow students. Not some HR stuff and drama”
The Director of Educational Services Mr. Brian Biedermann, who oversees graduations says, “COVID protocols were clearly articulated to the Secondary Principals and they were not followed by the Stagg Principal.”
No speeches were to occur because of time constraints and COVID safety and were to be filmed for release in the evening. This was the guidance from the CDPH to keep events short to minimize potential COVID exposure. The guidance was to keep the graduations short and that is why the district did not have principal speeches.
This is also the way the district had to hold graduations last year due to COVID. But this year was a chance for students to walk across the stage and receive their diploma as they deserve.
SUSD also split the graduations into three separate events and needed two hours in between to clean and sanitize. No other principals gave a speech.
The Principal prepared and gave a lengthy speech anyway.
In the video you do hear Mr. Nakamura saying, “This whole system is designed to try to make you successful at the cost of selling out your family. Selling out your community and even yourself” and
“Successful people will do whatever it takes to stomp on top of others and pull them down to climb their way to the top”.
Mr. Nakamura was approached my Mr. Brian Biedermann, who oversees graduations and informed him that he would not be participating in the other graduations.
He was escorted to his car by Mr. Biedermann and SUSD Public Safety was there as standard procedure at Graduations for security and safety of all.
He was not escorted off stage by police and the graduation was over.
There are several emails and agenda items making it clear that all principals, students and trustees were to record their speech. Mr. Nakamara and all principals were informed about the guidelines in April and May.
We reached out to SUSD which gave us the following responses via spokesperson Melinda Meza:
“Stagg High School is accredited.
There was not an an improvement in Stagg High School’s performance.
The pandemic created an instructional year free of state assessments. Thus prevents us from accurately measuring academic growth. Students were on distance learning due to COVID until April 29.
SUSD received guidance from CDPH to keep graduations short. SUSD Director of Educational Services who oversees graduations sent several emails and agenda items to all principals and board members that speeches were going to be videotaped and aired at the virtual ceremony at 5pm that evening. SUSD set the guidelines to keep the graduations short and set two hours in between graduations to clean. Graduations were split into three groups at 9:00am, noon and 3pm.
No other principals gave speeches.
We can tell you Mr. Nakamura is still employed by the district but anything about his fit or performance would be a personnel/ Human Resource matter”.
In addition to the information we received from the district, multiple additional sources saw Nakamura’s decision not to follow protocol as part of a greater pattern and sent us information saying that he was previously convicted of domestic violence on September 9, 2002 and plead guilty on October 11, 2002 for penal code 243 domestic battery and penal code 273.5 Corporal injury to a spouse in Orange County, California.
Nakamura reportedly had to take Domestic Violence courses and enroll in Battery Treatment Program that included Anger Management. Nakamura had to also do 8 hours of community service and comply with a Protective Order and stay 100 yards away from his victim.