Laguna Beach USD board elects Carol Normandin as president

Laguna Beach Unified Board President Carol Normandin. Photo courtesy of LBUSD

Carol Normandin was elected by a majority of fellow board members on Thursday as the next president of the Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education.

As the immediate former board clerk, Normandin was next in line to succeed Peggy Wolff. The president is charged with leading board meetings and serving as the spokesperson for the school board on policy matters.

“I am honored to be nominated again for President by my Board peers for the second year in a row,” Normandin wrote in an email. “Last year I was unable to accept the nomination while I was caring for my terminally ill mother. As the President of the Board for 2021, I accept the responsibility and trust to lead us with the unity of purpose.”

Laguna Beach voters elected Normandin to the school in 2014 and re-elected her in November 2018. She’s worked as an executive search consultant for 24 years, according to her Linkedin profile.

On Thursday, Board member Jan Vickers, who was recently re-elected to a sixth consecutive term, nominated Normandin for president. Board member James Kelly seconded the motion. The board voted 4-1 to support Normandin’s candidacy, board member Dee Perry opposed it.

Perry nominated herself for the top board role.

Normandin steps into the leadership role during an unprecedented pandemic that has kept Laguna Beach High School and Thurston Middle School closed to in-person learning for the last nine months. Top of the World and El Morro elementary schools continue to operate on a hybrid model with some students and teachers attending classrooms and others are distance learning from home.

Laguna Beach schools are on Winter Break starting Dec. 21 and will resume instruction on Jan. 5.

Many Laguna Beach parents have expressed frustration with the school board over its decision to keep secondary schools closed to students until the first trimester ended on Nov. 23. That start date was canceled after Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced new health orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the ongoing case surge. Under this order, only campuses that have already opened could continue in-person classes—unless they experienced an outbreak of COVID-19.

As of Thursday, Supt. Jason Viloria couldn’t say for certain that health officials would allow Laguna Beach secondary schools to reopen to students in January.

“The current guidance states that we need to be in the Red Tier for two weeks and then we would be able to reopen,” Viloria said. “[Orange County residents] are currently in the Purple Tier and we’re very much in the Purple Tier. We currently have 42.7 daily cases per 100,000 and in order to be in red we need to be below 7.”

In an unusual move, Kelly nominated newcomer Kelly Osborne for clerk. Normandin seconded the motion. The board voted 4-1 again with Perry opposed.

Laguna Beach Unified Board Clerk Kelly Osborne. File photo

Typically, a junior board member serves for at least one term before being elected to an executive position so they can learn parliamentary procedure and board policies. Osborne is a parent of two students attending schools in the district and a former president of the Laguna Beach Parent Teacher Association Council.

The clerk is a largely ceremonial role that leads board meetings when the president is absent, maintains and records or reports, sign documents on behalf of the district, and notifies board members and members-elect of the date and time for the annual organizational meeting, according to the board bylaws.

“I’ve been busy that last couple of weeks but I’m really excited,” Osborne said during Thursday’s meeting. “Given that I’m the newest board meeting I do want to ask that the board, the administration, and the community give me a little bit of time to come up to speed and not just understand things fully but have a deeper understanding of our school district.”

The school board’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be held via Zoom at 6 p.m. on Jan. 14.

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