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      Official Oppression or Disgruntled Employee?

      Just about a month ago, it was all smiles for Daniel Cruz, as the newly established Santa Maria Independent School District Police Department celebrated the donation of their first and only police unit.

      However, the good times have come to an end.

      Cruz said he was recently terminated " claiming he was humiliated and insulted in the process.

      He said it was it official oppression and it stemmed from a now infamous middle school basketball game.

      "I feel that all of this came about from the Santa Rosa (vs. Santa Maria basketball game) dispute, Cruz said. I strongly feel that this is just retaliation for me not giving (the Interim Superintendent) the information she wanted - for one I didn TMt' have that information, (and) it wasn't my investigation."

      According to Cruz, Interim Santa Maria Superintendent Maria Chavez called a meeting with him and several other administrators and employees.

      He said she was upset because she had not been notified of alleged charges filed against a student involved in the brawl.

      Cruz said he had been away at a family funeral, and he was not aware of the issue either.

      He claims Chavez questioned his authority as a police chief and even denied his request for equipment, which he said is mandated by state law.

      "I cannot do my job like that - I will not be liable, Cruz said. I advised Ms. Chavez that I would turn in my resignation at the end of the day - it was not going to be effective immediately."

      However, Cruz said before he could turn in his letter of resignation, he received an email from the interim superintendent.

      "Pretty much (she asked) me to seize all communications with anybody (and) not to act as a school employee, Cruz said. To me that's a termination and I believe since I was going to be speaking to the district attorney's office, she was trying to stop that or hinder me."

      Cruz said although he's not with the district any longer, he's still standing up to what he believes is official oppression.

      "The police department was up and running correctly, Cruz said. Now what are they going to have, what protection do they have? Yes, they can hire somebody else, but they're going to have to start all over again."

      Action 4 News contacted the Santa Maria school district interim superintendent and are awaiting a response. Cruz said he filed charges with the Cameron County Sheriff TMs Department and submitted a complaint to the Santa Maria School Board requesting an investigation.

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