At Odds With the School Board’s Culture


To a packed-in group of LBUSD parents and other community members, Laguna Beach school board President Bill Landseidel used the phrases “blown out of proportion”, and “odd” (adding to Ketta Brown’s “crazy” and “absurd”) to describe his constituents’ reaction to the board’s school year calendar change (yes go ahead, listen to the podcast, if you can get it).

What was obvious to everyone in the room is that in a sea-side community with a myriad of historical customs and cultures, the controversy over such a significant date change was not odd at all; it was that his and the board’s process and reactions were odd.

President Landseidel followed those remarks with a haughty, hectoring harangue directed at the mainly parent audience, in which he suggested that our district’s community has more than it deserves, seemingly to imply that parents should have bowed to the board’s administrative fiat; and that as many other districts are not as well off as ours, none of us in attendance should be speaking out about a minor date change, appalling and insulting to many in the room.

With words so presently, patently dismissive of parents’ actually speaking out and of the points they brought up, Landseidel clearly doesn’t and won’t embrace the critical lesson of these last months: that the community reacted as much to his board’s insular and clumsy process as to the calendar change itself.  He is the odd man out, the emperor with no clothes.

He and the board never offered a single substantive, rational explanation for the calendar change originally, that parents could understand (and still don’t).  Evidently the reason must be one that only they could grasp.  But, instead of offering that honest explanation, he voted to rescind the board’s prior approval with the other members anyway, making this once again a unanimous vote, just in the opposite direction.  Odd.

I applaud the board’s reversal.  And some board members seem intent on changing its culture that appears to be, at times, lazy, introverted and paranoid.  But what we can’t afford in Laguna Beach is a smoldering culture on our school board that is so odd.


Rick Putnam, Laguna Beach

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