The Hayward school board has placed its superintendent on paid leave while it investigates his role in hosting former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ray McDonald, who has been accused of rape, at a school assembly designed to teach at-risk students self-discipline.
Superintendent Stan Dobbs was placed on paid leave Wednesday at a Hayward Unified School District board meeting, the board’s president Lisa Brunner told NBC Bay Area via email. She said that Dobbs had to be removed in order to allow the investigation into McDonald’s visit to proceed.
Brunner also took the opportunity to clear the name of Tennyson High School Principal Lori Villanueva, who the superintendent had initially blamed for arranging McDonald’s February visit, according to Brenner.
"The blame placed by the Superintendent’s office on Principal Lori Villanueva was unwarranted…the office owes Ms. Villanueva an apology," Brunner said, calling the need for the superintendent to take leave "prodigiously" apparent.
In announcing the board’s decision, Brenner commended aspects of Dobbs’ performance as superintendent.
"The Superintendent has done many positives things with Board support and approval,"Brenner told NBC Bay Area. "It is the things that he has done without Board knowledge that concerns us."
The visit from McDonald, who is accused of meeting a woman at a San Jose bar, taking her home and raping her while she was intoxicated, sparked immediate outrage among some parents at the school after the East Bay Express published an in-depth story on the assembly.
McDonald, who also has been in court for domestic violence charges, could serve eight years if a jury convicts him. He is slated to appear before a judge in September.
At the time of the visit, the school proudly displayed pictures on its Facebook page of McDonald and another 49ers player posing with students and smiling as part of a "Made in Hayward" event, focusing on "making the right decisions." Those pictures quickly went viral, throwing the school district into crisis mode.
Dobbs told the Mercury News on Thursday that he would pray for the board.
"I will always continue to put the Made In Hayward children first no matter what non-actions are taken against me in public,"Dobbs said. "I will just continue to pray for the board members and their decisions -- that is the best I can do."