Credit: Twitter/CraigHeimbichn1
Craig Heimbichner

An administrator at the California Department of Education was put on paid leave Thursday while department officials investigate allegations that he authored books and articles about conspiracy theories and used anti-Semitic rhetoric.

The department began an internal investigation of Craig Heimbichner, who was promoted in January to the position of education administrator in the charter schools division, after receiving a complaint last week related to his published writings and statements, said Daniel Thigpen, spokesman for the department.

The department also is planning to hire a third-party investigator to assist in the review, Thigpen said.

Heimbichner also was the subject of a Sacramento Bee article Thursday that revealed he had written articles calling the 9/11 terrorist attack an inside job and promoted Holocaust conspiracies. One of Heimbichner’s two books focuses on fraternal organizations, like the Scottish Rite Masons, which he has intimated was behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

As an education administrator, Heimbichner’s job involves helping plan, develop, administer and evaluate educational programs, according to the California Department of Education website. In that role, Heimbichner is part of a team that reviews the appeals of schools that have been denied a charter by school districts and county offices of education.

Thigpen did not have an exact salary for Heimbichner on deadline, but said an Education Administrator 1 earns between $8,051 and $10,083 each month.

Heimbichner was initially hired to work in the charter schools division in 2017.

Heimbichner was already the subject of controversy in December 2012 when Horizon Charter School in Rocklin closed with only five days’ notice. Heimbichner was chief executive officer of the charter school system for about four years. The charter system closed a program in nearby Lincoln, and eviction notices were posted in Auburn and Elk Grove later that month. Heimbichner left the organization in 2014 by mutual agreement, according to a story in The Sacramento Bee. He was paid $200,000 — equal to the amount remaining on his contract.

His Twitter account, which is locked, lists Heimbichner as an award-winning author, educator, musician, screenwriter, actor and producer, as well as a martial artist.

It’s not clear if California Department of Education officials knew about Heimbichner’s writings when he was first hired in 2017 and promoted in January. Thigpen said he doesn’t know who reviewed and approved Heimbichner’s promotion.

“In general we will use this and any other opportunity as part of an ongoing review of our practices and process to see if there are areas where it can be strengthened,” Thigpen said of the department’s hiring process. 

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  1. Timothy Morgan 2 months ago2 months ago

    PERSONAL VIEW ONLY: An important question to ask is did the charter school grouping this man used to run close owing the State, or its employees money? The suddenness of the closures may suggest that it did. Because charter schools have sometimes been vehicles to siphon tax money over to for-profit corporations, this can put public education funds at risk. My view is that charter schools should be required to post a performance bond, … Read More

    PERSONAL VIEW ONLY: An important question to ask is did the charter school grouping this man used to run close owing the State, or its employees money? The suddenness of the closures may suggest that it did. Because charter schools have sometimes been vehicles to siphon tax money over to for-profit corporations, this can put public education funds at risk. My view is that charter schools should be required to post a performance bond, which would in effect insure the State against such losses.

  2. Rick Bagley, Ed.d. 2 months ago2 months ago

    Mr. Heimbichner is a symptom of a much bigger problem within the CDE. First, the Advisory Committee on Charter Schools (ACCS) should be immediately disbanded or reconstituted, as under AB 1505/1507. It is so glaringly obvious this body is little more than a group of pro-charter appointees who have improperly been given the authority to overturn decisions made by publicly-elected local school boards. Second, it is inappropriate for the CDE (with or without Heimbichner) to … Read More

    Mr. Heimbichner is a symptom of a much bigger problem within the CDE. First, the Advisory Committee on Charter Schools (ACCS) should be immediately disbanded or reconstituted, as under AB 1505/1507. It is so glaringly obvious this body is little more than a group of pro-charter appointees who have improperly been given the authority to overturn decisions made by publicly-elected local school boards.

    Second, it is inappropriate for the CDE (with or without Heimbichner) to review and make charter renewal recommendations on charters it oversaw but now no longer has any responsibility for. The appearance of impropriety and conflict of interest, whether it actually exists or not, is inescapable. Instead, a respected, competent, unbiased and neutral outside third party should be doing these reviews.

    The Heimbichner situation speaks volumes regarding the CDE’s due diligence or lack thereof, as it only takes a simple Google search to find the information reported in yesterday’s Sacramento Bee. If that level of due diligence is the best the CDE can do in hiring and promoting their staff, how can we have confidence in their ability to perform competent due diligence in reviewing charter petitions?

    I’ve long lamented the SBE/CDE’s double-standard when it comes “local control,” experiencing that phrase to mean next to nothing in the real education world … except of course when a scapegoat is needed. The ACCS members’ recent rants against the Ross Valley School District are a case in point. They had no legitimate justification to recommend the decision of a duly elected board be overturned and instead based their “findings” on emotion and the CDE’s slipshod work. The ACCS also had no right or standing to castigate the District for its comprehensive and legally compliant analysis under AB 1505 and 1507.

    Replies

    • Wesley Pratt 2 months ago2 months ago

      The SBE shall consider new curriculum at its upcoming meetings later this month (March 2021). There will be advocacy for new curriculum as it relates to anti-Semitism. I cannot see how our educators and those who are creating policy around the issue of anti-hate can be taken seriously while simultaneously allowing the employment of a published, outspoken conspiracy theorist and bigot: Craig Heimbichner.

  3. Cliff Leiker 2 months ago2 months ago

    I believe the article provides an example of the liberal/progressive element in this state attacking a conservative Christian. Nonbelievers are demonstrative in their effort to run conservative Christians out of this state. Craig is a high character person and this state needs more people like him. Craig did research on the Occult some 30 years ago. I don't know if this backlash has anything to do with his published findings. Leave Craig alone. He is good … Read More

    I believe the article provides an example of the liberal/progressive element in this state attacking a conservative Christian. Nonbelievers are demonstrative in their effort to run conservative Christians out of this state. Craig is a high character person and this state needs more people like him. Craig did research on the Occult some 30 years ago. I don’t know if this backlash has anything to do with his published findings.

    Leave Craig alone. He is good for the state and the children in the charter school system. Why doesn’t this reporter get to the bottom of why this person made it an issue? How do they think, as a high character person, Craig would be bad for the charter school system? Has he done anything wrong, and if he did, what was it? Be specific, not ambiguous.

    Replies

    • Andy 2 months ago2 months ago

      The reporter did not criticize him – he reported what he wrote and did and what his department did.

      If you believe this is an attack by liberals on Christian conservatives, why? Holocaust deniers and 9/11 or JFK conspiracies have nothing to do with Christianity…at least I hope you don’t think they do.