My neighbors are still talking about our School Board’s bad example to kids by not following rules or being fair to others.
The superintendent and Board have asymmetric power because parents will choose children over freedom of speech. I don’t have children, but it’s sad to think if I did, surrendering civic freedom to protect kids might be a parent’s only choice.
Speaking for those fearing retaliation, let’s take just three of many examples:
1. The superintendent allowed Board member Wolff to create a false public record using LBUSD seal and letterhead. It warned a citizen not to meet with Board member Perry, absurdly alleging violation of Board rules. The letter from Wolff targeted a resident who made public comments at a Board meeting on a topic the superintendent didn’t want discussed in that forum. Perry did not violate Board rules, the superintendent and Wolff did.
2. The superintendent went into court seeking public “naming and shaming” of a minor student in a lawsuit against the District. The court rejected intimidation tactics in retaliation for the lawsuit. The court also ruled our superintendent exceeded authority. No legitimate public interest is served by the retaliatory appeal, now costing more than LBUSD can save even if it wins the pointless appeal of a moot case.
3. Math professionals and academics in the parent community opposing math curriculum changes proposed by the superintendent were identified and held up to public ridicule in a video produced and distributed using school staff and funding. One parent’s employer was contacted by the superintendent seeking to punish free speech. Experimental math failed, sadly at the expense of hundreds of students over a period of years. Supposedly “satirical” and “funny,” the retaliation video traumatically impacted parents and students.
So, let’s stop pretending. Retaliation is real, comes from the top down, and occurs on every campus.
A superintendent can propose agenda items, but an elected representative must approve, revise or disapprove the Board meeting agenda. If staff can veto the agenda, and the Board approves 99 percent of the staff agenda, why do we need a Board?
Powers of the superintendent are delegated at the pleasure of the Board, which remains legally responsible and liable for all acts of staff, as we know from lawsuits currently taking funds from classrooms.
As things stand now, thanks to the teachers, our schools are excellent despite, not because, of our School Board.
Christopher Kling, Laguna Beach