Students and parents hold up signs with messages of support for former SCHS principal Michael Halt while standing outside of the CUSD board room during Wednesday night’s meeting. Photo: Allison Jarrell
Students and parents hold up signs with messages of support for former SCHS principal Michael Halt while standing outside of the CUSD board room during Wednesday night’s meeting. Photo: Allison Jarrell

By Allison Jarrell

Following an impassioned Capistrano Unified School District meeting on May 13—during which distraught parents, students and staff spoke in support of former San Clemente High School Principal Michael Halt—the district’s board of trustees has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, May 21, at 4:30 p.m. to discuss “consideration of the employment/evaluation of performance/nonrenewal of public employee(s).” The agenda also specifies the presence of Attorney Frederic D. Woocher.

At the board’s May 13 meeting, trustee John Alpay requested to agendize an “independent investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding Michael Halt’s personnel matters.” The request came following nearly two hours of public comment in support of Michael Halt, who was removed from his position as principal in March and left the school campus earlier this month. Parents, staff and students are largely still wondering why Halt was let go because state law prevents the district from publicly discussing personnel matters.

Because Halt came from outside the district, he was subject to a two-year probationary period before a decision could be made on his future employment with CUSD. A release sent by the district indicated a decision had been made prior to March 15 to not return Halt to the post for next year.

Discussion of Halt’s removal was not on the agenda for the May 13 meeting, leaving board members unable to take actions beyond agendizing items for future meetings. During last week’s meeting, Alpay requested that the board discuss authorizing an independent investigation at a special meeting to be held before the board’s regularly-scheduled meeting on May 27. Alpay’s motion to schedule an early meeting received no support at the time.

“The review should focus not only on the facts and whether the allegations asserted have any basis in reality, but whether the process was properly respected,” Alpay said at the May 13 meeting. “The independent investigator should report directly to the board, have access to all files and materials, and ability to interview the parties.”

A notice has since been posted on the district’s website for a special closed session meeting scheduled May 21, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Alpay’s request does not appear on the board’s closed session agenda.

Trustee Jim Reardon told the San Clemente Times Tuesday he expected Alpay’s request—hiring an independent person to look into the decision not to re-elect Halt—would be discussed during the public part of the meeting. However, district officials confirmed Wednesday that the May 21 meeting will be closed session only. The public will be able to comment on the agenda item listed, and the board is obligated to report any actions taken during closed session. To view the agenda, visit The next regularly-scheduled meeting is May 27 at 7 p.m.

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comments (29)

  • Hooray! So glad the board is listening to the outcry and look forward to some good news! #ilikemikehalt

  • We should assume nothing. This is likely a ploy because they hope we can’t get there on short notice. Please, San Clemente, try and get to the meeting on Thursday, May 21.

  • FINALLY! No matter what you think of Mr. Alpay, he is the ONLY board member willing to go out on a limb and admit that the board may have made an error in judging Mr. Halt on information provided by Le Patner, Bretlinger and Vital. Hopefully the board will realize that they ( Le Patner, Bretlinger and Vital) are lying to them and only giving them the information they want them to know and spinning it their way. If they told the truth and have nothing to hide, then this should be immediately approved and the investigation should be started. What they are afraid of, is that if the investigation concludes that they did in fact lie and spin the accusations against Mr. Halt to suit them, then they will have to consider reinstating him and they will be seen for the liars they are. Thank you Mr. Alpay for doing what is right and being willing to stand up for what is right. Hopefully your fellow board members will follow suit. If they don’t there is always the recall process and I would fully support initiating it for anyone unwilling to vote for this investigation. I am sure I am not alone.

    • CUSD Parent, A.K.A. disgruntled employee Julie Hatchel, knows full well that Alpay is only acting in hopes of saving his political rear end. Fess up, Julie — stop hiding behind a made up name.

      As soon as your new employers in Irvine find out your true colors, you won’t have much future there. Buh-bye!

      • Julie has way too much class than to be involved in any of this. She is lucky to have escaped the mess going on in CUSD, and Irvine will benefit from the wonderful person she is. Whatever your agenda is and whoever you really are, anyone who knows Julie knows she would never be a part of anything like the deception going on in that district office. She is leaving and that speaks volumes. So don’t even go there. It’s obvious you truly don’t know her or you wouldn’t be throwing that out there. Unless of course you aren’t Alicia T, but someone with an ulterior motive.

      • Gosh, Alicia T, care to elaborate on how you could possibly defend this board? And who are you in bed with? (speaking figuratively, of course). And since you’re lobbing missiles at people who don’t fully declare their names, what is your last name?

      • Alicia T.,

        Politicians are elected by the people to represent them. All the Trustees are elected and politicians and all the Trustees are supposed to represent the people. It is not their job to once elected ignore the people who elected them. They represent the people not the CUSD administration. You state that Alpay is “saving his political rear end”. He may well be because as an elected official if you do not represent the people than the people will not vote for you. All the SCHS community is asking for is for the board to reconsider and investigate their decision. It is a reasonable request and it has been made by 1000’s of people. I don’t understand why it would be denied. Do you?

  • Who fired Mr. Halt anyway? It sounds as if the board didn’t know he’d been fired! If they’d directed the firing I wouldn’t think they’d make any considerations at this time. Did the superintendent fire him on his own?

  • SCTimes – Where is the agenda for the meeting? Aren’t agendas supposed to be posted 72 hours in advance?

    • Wide Awake 10-year Talega, San Clemente Taxpayer Reply

      The all volunteer citizens group that goes by the name of Talega Residents for Fair Taxation fought for fairness and advocated the law in reaction to the gross over-taxation by CUSD of Talega taxpayers and won without help from our elected San Clemente representative John Alpay who could have helped us but chose to abandon us instead. For those of us who know the truth about Alpay’s betrayal of his own Talega community where he also resides, he is known as our “un-representing representative”. We are glad he is not running for re-election to the school board in 2016 so he cannot do any further damage here. We hear through the grapevine that he plans to run for San Clemente City Council in 2016. Good luck with that!

      • Just Say No to Alpay Reply

        I’ve also heard the rumor that Alpay will run for City Council in 2016 and that would be a disaster for San Clemente. I’m totally unimpressed with Alpay and don’t trust him at all. I think his latest posturing is to cover his rear end. I haven’t been one to get actively involved in political campaigns, but if Alpay foolishly decides to run I will commit lots of my time and money to ensuring he doesn’t get elected.

      • Trustee Alpay is supposed to represent all of San Clemente not just Talega. Right?

  • We all need to get the word out! Please spread the word and be there to show your support! May 21st at 7:00 p.m.

  • In my opinion, what truly makes this situation sad is how many lives are being ruined in the process. So many CUSD employees are being targeted for no reason other than personal dislike from the one and only, Le Patner. Even more sad, in my opinion, is the destructing force herself. It’s so very sad to see someone act with so much hatred, so much contempt for compassionate people, only making decisions that are self-serving and flat out fabricated. It makes you almost feel sorry for her, how miserable does a person need to be in their own life to conduct themselves in such a despicable manner? I said almost. Anyone who knows Julie Hatchel will find the post above laughable, and know that only a sad and defensive person would make such comments. The district and board members need to open their eyes before they open themselves up to numerous lawsuits, which could already be in the making. The district, specifically the board, should be embarrassed that they have allowed the past year to happen. Wake up CUSD, before it’s too late.

  • The superintendent and LePatner met with principals again this week and told them “we’ve got
    this don’t worry it will be a 6-1 vote.” That distressed the principals because they feel there is no hope. What is the point of a meeting if the board members have already decided their vote?

    CUSD is monitoring web and email traffic to see if any employees read or post on Halt related stuff and discipline is issued.

    LePatner told people she had a baby about three years ago. They had a shower. She showed them pictures after it was born. It is not her baby. WHAT?

    LePatner graduated from high school in 1990. She didn’t get an emergency credential until 1999. She says she was an elementary, a middle, and a high school principal, a teacher of several subjects and a department chair. Has anyone checked to see if this is accurate?

    • We know MLP’s employment experience from 1999 (when she signed with Santa Ana USD) to date but there is no mention of where is earned her secondary experience in the years from 1994-1999.

      Can anyone shed some light on that as it would seem extremely relevant that she had secondary experience if she is deemed qualified to dismiss/fire so many secondary people.

  • URGENT! CUSD has just changed the times to 4:30pm this Thursday!! Spread the word.. they are trying to evade us all and be sneaky. Please go to to see latest update, we need all students, parents and friends to please show up.

  • UPDATE! The special meeting scheduled to begin at 5:30 has been moved to 4:30!
    FB ilikemikehalt and website have all the details.

    John Alpay is also now involved in the public discussion. Will this be good or bad for his political career? Not sure, but it does seem like he really wants a fair and transparent investigation of Principal Halt’s firing.
    People are getting more and more upset with each announcement from CUSD about last-minute meetings, schedule changes, and (missing?)agenda items, and understandably so. It does feel like we’re getting jerked around.
    Hopefully we can get a good turnout at the meeting anyway, but it’s important for everyone to act like grown-ups until we find out what Ms. Vital & the board are up to.
    Part of me hopes they’re getting things in order so they can approve the motion to investigate Principal Halt’s dismissal. Which would be much harder to do with an angry mob outside…

  • What happened to the Brown Act? Does that not apply to school districts? 72 hours the agenda must be posted before the meeting?

    • San Clemente Times Reply

      Hi Sonja,
      Special meeting agendas must be posted only 24 hours in advanced, versus 72 hours for regular meetings, according to the Brown Act.

  • Kirsten met with the principals again this week. Told them the Board “has got this” and there will be a 6-1 vote. They are depressed that the Board doesn’t get it. Kirsten is also monitoring email and web site traffic. If you read or blog about Halt you are in trouble.

    LePatner graduated from high school in 1990. She has told many people she was a high school, elementary, and middle school principal. She didn’t get her emergency credential until 1999. Something is fishy.

    • James, what do you mean you are in trouble if you read or blog about this? Are you talking about the CUSD employees being in trouble, or the community? Should we worry about another “hit list” from the Superintendent?

    • It’s beyond ‘fishy’ – James. Is it possible that she misrepresented herself when she interviewed with CUSD?

  • The Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees appointed Michelle Le Patner, Ed.D. to fill the vacant Executive Director, Secondary Schools and Adult Education Programs position.
    Le Patner, currently the Director of Research & Evaluation/Leadership Training in the Santa Ana Unified School District, begins her new position on Aug. 6, 2012.
    “Michelle will be a great addition to our leadership team,” Superintendent Joe Farley said. “Her professional experience and passion for education will be a welcome addition to this District’s talented leadership team as we continue to improve the educational experiences we offer our students.”
    Le Patner joined the Santa Ana Unified School District in 1999, serving as acting principal at Washington Elementary School until 2001. From 2001 to 2004, she was that district’s Coordinator of Improving Teacher Quality. She began her current position in 2004. Previously, she was a principal in San Rafael and a teacher, department chair and assistant principal in Tuscon, Az. Le Patner also served as adjunct faculty at Chapman University and CSU Fullerton from 2002 to 2008.
    She earned her educational doctorate from CSU Fullerton and her master’s degree and administrative and teaching credentials through National University. She received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Arizona.
    In CUSD, Le Patner will oversee all high schools, middle schools, and adult education programs.

  • Capo USD District Headquarters and schools must have pretty hostile work environments if employees can’t even speak without threat of repercussion. No sarcasm is intended here. I really think it must be terrible to go to work under Vital, et al’s rule.

  • CUSD Parent and Long-Time SC Resident Reply

    We need a new CUSD school board, from the bottom up. The fish rots from the head down. The last few years have been painful and this Halt deal is the straw that broke the camel’s back. San Clemente also needs to pull out of the district and form its own. Alpay, Hatton, Vital, LePatner and the rest of you – just resign already.

  • It truly sounds like the Board doesn’t like Halt because he was doing good job. I think they really want the status quo and the students be-danged.

    An independent public investigation must be done. It will be blocked by the Board because they truly have something to hide.

    Recall elections and perhaps other legal actions must be taken!

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