Letter: School District Transparency At All-Time Low

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At Thursday’s School Board meeting, District Administration sought approval for $100,00 in added funds for the law firm Rutan & Tucker LLP, exclusively retained to handle the litigation between the Board majority and Board member Perry, bringing total approved fund for the firm to $200,000. Final decisions on hearing the case haven’t been made by the judge yet. This total is almost equal to the complete litigation budget for the 2018-19 budget year. As this letter publishes after the Board meeting, I am guessing the request was approved. I hope I am wrong. I doubt it.

It’s irresponsible and financially reckless to use litigation resolve issues without mediation or arbitration in my opinion. Our Board is failing at holding our District Administration accountable to lower litigation costs. Why? What are the repercussions if Perry prevailed? Her voting privileges on all issues reinstated? Sounds harmless to me. The claim is about violations of Perry’s rights, about an email to Perry about Perry, not a student, states previous articles. If the outcome is against the Superintendent and the independently named Board majority, that wouldn’t be a good optic I suppose, given the recent 8% pay raise, 25% since hiring, bestowed upon the Superintendent. Is this the motivation driving the taxpayer-funded litigation budget, for this case alone?

This costly attempt to silence Perry endures when live streaming continued on hiatus, it took a pandemic to reinstate it. Board policies changed restricting constituents’ access to elected Board members. Grievances? Only heard by the Superintendent.

“Distance learning” grading policy discussed without student or parent outreach and staff not allowed to comment. A watchdog brought awareness to stakeholders prior to district decisions. Currently a “thought exchange” on “distance learning” is available for one-way communications, but no live discussion with stakeholders. Over 675 comments documented thus far and yet students’ opinions are not solicited. The parent’s perspectives are clear. More face to face interaction, transparency, structure, balance of technology and hands-on learning, solutions varied for grade levels and with our high-level funding, more creative solutions are demanded, in a timely fashion.

“Live feed” board meetings but, pre-submit public comment prior to the meetings, controlled dialogue? No public forum for discussions. Gone is the sense of community, the belief that the Administration and Board desires input, transparency. Efforts prevail to silence its community and stakeholders with one-way conversations and while claims are made on improved transparency, the waters are cloudier than ever before.

Sheri Morgan, Laguna Beach

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