School Board President Jan Vickers boldly defended LBUSD defiance of a state court ruling, insisting attempted nullification of a judicial order was “driven by our commitment to our students and community.”
The first “commitment” of public school officials is to honor the oath to uphold our laws. Only then can public education properly meet its commitment to encourage disciplined self-discovery, good character and citizenship, along with learned skills for success in life.
The school board’s lack of measured governance once again became conspicuous when five young people in our town acted out negative race socialization. Well-managed, timely private as well as appropriate public truth and reconciliation would’ve made personal responsibility, just resolution, healing and closure possible.
Instead, a full year later school board political and legal jousting prevents the “resilient” response school officials promised. Vickers’ remarks confirm the school board misread community concern as demand for extraordinary punishment.
Officiously acting as judge and jury, the school board authorized conclusory findings of guilt in official student records, using code words for hate crimes and aggravated anti-social hostility.
Ironically, students might have been better off in the juvenile criminal justice system. Instead our school board imposed life sentences fearing disclosure of official government records, effectively criminalizing one night of really bad choices by minors.
All future academic or employment applications requiring school records may trigger disclosure of juvenile offenses tantamount to crimes, even though police declined to prosecute.
Predictably challenged in court, the judge rejected school board arguments that state laws on student gang or internet crimes give school officials discretion to punish virtually any off campus anti-social student behavior.
Instead of a motion to stay the court’s order pending appeal, the school district chose unlawfully to ignore the ruling, grandiosely announcing it would appeal the judge’s “failure to understand law.”
That meant denial of relief the court granted, namely removal of punitive entries in school records before the student submitted college applications. The school district lost in court but arrogantly acted as if it won, and could make the student suffer the same outcome despite prevailing in a court of law.
Only when the judge scheduled a hearing to determine if the school district should be held in contempt of court did our school board grudgingly comply with the court’s original order.
The board’s negative socialization in civic relations is now a matter of official court record.
Howard Hills, Laguna Beach