Retired teacher and former Vallecito Union School District trustee Carol Gordon has died, according to several unconfirmed reports.
The 73-year-old Murphys resident was taken to Sonora Regional Medical Center in an ambulance on Wednesday morning, a community member reported.
On May 16, Gordon attended her pre-preliminary hearing at the Calaveras County Superior Court and appeared calm and subdued. She was granted an order for a mental health examination by Judge David Sanders and was scheduled for a mental competency hearing on July 25.
Gordon had been embroiled in court proceedings since September, when she was arrested at the Concours d’Elegance in Murphys under suspicion of vandalizing a 1958 Edsel. She was also charged with intimidating a business owner and resisting arrest, and spent several days in jail before being released on her own recognizance.
After failing to secure an attorney, Gordon was represented by public defenders at Richard A. Ciummo & Associates.
Gordon accrued additional misdemeanor charges during her court proceedings, and her driver’s license was suspended in addition to other court-mandated restrictions.
The retired teacher of 40 years was well-known within her community and fondly remembered by former students due to her many years of involvement with VUSD, but also due to her reportedly disruptive behavior. Gordon was restricted from entering several Murphys businesses and was accused of issuing threats at local functions.
While serving on the VUSD school board, Gordon’s fellow trustees voted to censure her and effectively ban her from all school campuses. However, their further efforts to remove her from office did not succeed, and Gordon served a four-year term ending in 2016.
Gordon ran unsuccessfully for the same position during last year’s statewide general election, securing 603 votes.
According to an interview in September of 2018, Gordon told the Enterprise about her teaching career and that she had coached 90 teams during her four-decade career.
Publisher’s note: A number of readers have commented upon a story in yesterday's Enterprise about the sudden death of Carol Gordon shortly after her most recent court appearance. Some of those comments were critical of our story for failing to say something positive about Gordon's history as a teacher and school board member, while recounting the most recent negative publicity she had received as a result of vandalism charges pending against her at the time of her death.
In view of the number of comments and the harsh tenor of some, we are providing our readers with this response. First, the opening sentence of our story did refer to Carol Gordon's long career as a teacher in Calaveras schools. In more than a dozen Enterprise stories written about her conflicts with other county residents during the past couple of years, nothing negative has ever been said about her teaching career.
Our story also noted that she was "well-known within her community and fondly remembered by former students...", and that in the course of an interview with the Enterprise she had talked "about her teaching career and that she had coached 90 teams during her four-decade career."
But our story also noted correctly that she had been censured by the school board where she was a member and that less than a week before her death she had been "scheduled for a mental competency hearing" in the course of a preliminary hearing on the misdemeanor charges pending against her.
Some readers were critical of the fact that information about her death was attributed to "several unconfirmed reports," as if that was intended to demean her in some way. But that was simply the truth. We had no official confirmation of her death in the less than two hours our reporter had to write this story (and complete others) between the time the first report was received and the publication deadline for this week's newspaper.
Some readers were critical of the fact that anything negative was included in an "obituary" of a long term community member. But this was not an obituary, any more than a report of any traffic death would be. It was the final installment in a series of reports about a long-standing criminal matter that has generated a great deal of interest in our community, and recounts how that matter was closed by the death of the defendant.
While the Enterprise newsroom handled this matter exactly as professional journalists are expected to report on newsworthy events, we appreciate and respect the sentiments expressed by readers who felt that something more could be done to help Carol Gordon's friends and family deal with their loss. Hopefully, their positive memories and comments about her life and contributions have served that goal and will inspire others to do the same.