Recall the Recall
A sad fact about the governance of school districts is the short-lived attention span of voters concerned about the results. Most of us don’t give much thought to our schools, unless we have children attending them. Once they are finished, so are we.
The Laguna Beach Unified School District administration proudly touts how successful our schools and students are. They should be. We spend more per student than almost all other school districts in California. Yet our schools’ ratings are no better than schools with less than half of our funding. El Moro Elementary in Laguna is rated a 9, while Antelope Hills Elementary in Murrieta gets the same rating with far less money to do so.
If our schools’ success is based on the acumen of our administrators, shouldn’t our ratings be higher? After all that money being spent, you’d think so. Maybe a nice AP adjusted rating of 15 out of a possible 10.
We are now into the third consecutive term of School Board El Presidente Jan Vickers. Past presidents have served one-year terms under a generations old tradition, but El Presidente Vickers claims there are no others who want or can do the job. Another board member thought that this tradition meant she would be elevated to president last year or perhaps this year. It didn’t happen.
That member, Dee Perry, happens to have some conflicting opinions on how our schools should be run. Rather than follow tradition, the ruling junta created a scenario whereby they were able to concoct an alleged violation, conduct a kangaroo court, and strip Ms. Perry of any meaningful participation in vital board business, thereby robbing all of her constituents of their vote. This seems a lot like Venezuela.
When parents protest these actions, they are ignored, obfuscated or just told to be quiet because the ruling junta knows best. The last time the board adopted this attitude was in 1987. Vickers was on that board, too.
Back then, the board refused to fire a walk-on high school football coach who had two drug related incidents with Laguna’s police. When informed at PTA meetings of parental displeasure with this situation, Vickers suggested the board knows best and if folks didn’t like it, they could recall her from office. By a two to one margin, voters did just that.
It is too bad the turmoil that those parents had to go through was so quickly forgotten. Here we are, 32 years later, and Vickers is back at the center of another dysfunctional board. Yet again, it’s time for the voters to intervene. This time, don’t forget the lesson learned.
J.J. Gasparotti moved to Laguna Beach with his family when he was 11 years old. He has loved it ever since.