Mora: Appeal ‘vindicates’ actions in 2018 probation incident

Personnel board votes to reinstate former group counselor

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Salvador Mora, a candidate in this year's race for mayor of Hollister, talked to representatives of Teamsters Local Union No. 890 and employees at San Benito Foods during a protest they performed in front of the City Hall building in Hollister on July 14. (Juan Reyes)

It’s been more than two years since Salvador Mora was accused of using excessive force and foul language while working at the County of Santa Clara Probation Department—accusations that he said were later disproved by an investigation. 

However, the former senior group counselor is trying to be the example of what several others have gone through in the past.

“I am not ashamed or embarrassed of what transpired because I knew that I did not do anything wrong that warranted termination,” he said. 

Mora, who is running for mayor of Hollister, said he was reinstated Aug. 3, 2019 by a personnel board, 5-0, that was made up of independent individuals who had no ties to the county. But in a recent interview, Mora said he has not returned to his former profession because he is still unsure of his future. 

As a union rep, he said he has stood up in the past against management that have made false accusations against some of his peers. 

“I was victorious, I was vindicated like I had predicted I would be from the beginning,” he said.

The decision allowed him to remain as an employee of Santa Clara County, according to Mora.

The Free Lance reached out to the county’s probation department for a statement regarding the personnel board’s decision and Mora’s current status as an employee. But Mariel Caballero, deputy director of probation administration, responded in an email message that they can’t provide any details or a response to the hearing.

“It is not the practice of the Probation Department, or the County of Santa Clara, to discuss personnel issues,” said Caballero in the email. “We are unable to comment regarding this matter.” 

Caballero also declined to say when Mora worked for Santa Clara County Probation Department. 

Mora provided a copy of the Findings of Facts and Conclusions summary of the appeal hearing, showing that Santa Clara County neither charged, argued nor proved the use of “excessive force” in relation to the 2018 incident. 

Mora, who was employed by Santa Clara County for 16 years, said he was fired by the probation department in July 2018. This was after he had been placed on paid administrative leave following a juvenile hall incident involving a physical restraint he used on a detainee. 

He said the probation department fired him for unprofessional conduct toward a co-worker in the aftermath of the incident.

Salvador Mora

Mora recalls the way it went down was that a female co-worker got into a confrontation with a male juvenile inmate. He stepped in to help her to offer support because other co-workers in the area failed to intervene. 

He said the juvenile refused orders to go to his room and it left him no choice but to restrain the minor, who then reacted violently.

“I put myself in a position to help her and I did not get terminated for beating any child whatsoever,” he said.

Mora said that the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department claimed that he left his shift without filing an incident report and that he didn’t offer the youth a “time out.” However, he was cleared by internal affairs and the Sheriff’s Department.

“They told me I supposedly violated some youth timeout policy we have,” he said. “The situation I was involved in did not call for it.”

Eric Parsons, vice president of the AFSCME Local 1587 – Probation Peace Officers’ Union, was present for all four of Mora’s hearings, including the day he won the appeal. 

“I felt that it was just that he won the appeal and even though there was a disciplinary attached to the decision, they overturned the termination and I didn’t even feel the discipline was warranted,” Parsons said. 

Parsons was a fellow co-worker and union representative alongside Mora, mentioning times when he fought for people who needed representation. 

“When it’s on the other foot you don’t represent yourself, only a fool does that,” Parsons said. “It was a situation where after years of representing other people and fighting for other people’s rights, he found himself in a situation where he was unjustly terminated.”

Parsons said it takes about a year to complete the appeal process and to find the facts. But he mentioned that Covid-19 also slowed down the process, which resulted in delayed personnel board hearings. 

Mora said he could go back to the probation department as a senior group counselor or start at a different position but he’s still unsure of his future. He is currently a mortgage loan officer in Hollister.   

Mora, who is a candidate for Mayor of Hollister, said he doesn’t feel like this situation should affect his chances of winning. 

Mora said he was both excited and emotional after the board’s decision because of the mental stress that him and his family were put through.

“It was a huge sigh of relief because I stated from the get-go that I did nothing wrong that warranted termination,” he said. “It’s one thing to keep saying it without proof but finally the proof was delivered by the personnel board.”

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