Our School Board needs some of that kindness being touted lately.
Dee Perry is the only School Board member consistently bringing relevant, independent fact-finding and education research to its deliberations. She compromises, votes with the Board often, but there’s overt unkindness after she votes against the majority and dares to explain why in public.
Perry served successfully as Clerk in 2017, next in line for President as Jan Vickers rotated out. The Board’s formal rule is, “After serving one year as Clerk, the elected member may serve one year as president…”
Instead, at a special meeting on other topics in 2017, Board member Ketta Brown told Perry her independence and dissent undermined “unity” and disqualified her from being president.
Brown endorsed Vickers for another term, and Perry was isolated when Wolff, Normandin and Vickers agreed. Perry was told she could serve as Clerk again in 2018, and succeed Vickers in 2019, assuming Perry got re-elected in 2018.
Voters in 2018 found Perry fit to perform all duties and re-elected her. But at the annual organizational meeting after the election, Wolff, Normandin and Vickers ignored voters, refusing to give Perry her turn to preside (new member James Hall was absent on a business trip).
Wolff officiously told Perry “some people are not presidential material.” When “can-may-shall” ambiguity of rule was noted, Superintendent Viloria failed to remind the Board it needed to follow or change the provision also in the rule clarifying, “It is the intent of the Board that all members will rotate through the sequence of clerk and president.”
In 2014, Vickers was in line to be Clerk, and she vigorously argued it would be wrong if rotation was not honored, vociferously threatening “negative consequences” if she were passed over.
At the 2017 meeting, Brown offered to support extension of Vickers as president for another year, and Vickers happily agreed to abandon rotation to pass over Perry. But because election of officers was not on the meeting agenda, the Board’s decision to deny Perry’s turn was a prima facie Brown Act violation.
At the 2018 meeting was the first time the election of Board president was moved to end of meeting, and mysteriously, the video recording system experienced sudden blackout. Normandin nominated Vickers for a third term, pretending she misunderstood the debate and thought Perry surrendered her bid.
Good schools deserve better governance, starting with the Board either following or changing binding rules. Respecting diversity, and, yes, some kindness, could go a long way.
Howard Hills, Laguna Beach