Letter: What Is Going on with the School Board?

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In weighing in on the Dee Perry situation related to the Laguna Beach School Board, I think it is important to state that I was a school board member in San Marino for eight years. At no time did anyone ever criticize another board member publicly. Coincidentally, I was asked if I would consider rotating past a board member slated for the position, which I rejected knowing how it would affect the working relationship of the board.

I will start by saying that the board members who have attacked Dee publicly are demonstrating poor boardsmanship skills. Deciding to violate board policy, Dee was not elected to serve as president. If Dee needed help, a mentor or former president could have assisted her. Now that Vickers is president instead, how is that working out? Things couldn’t be worse. The board is in disarray and would benefit from in-service.

The irony of the board/lawyer blaming Dee for divulging confidential material is that they created the situation by isolating her with public ridicule, then creating a board policy requiring board members get board approval before talking to the lawyer. So, she sought advice from the outside. No one should reveal confidential material, but forming a subcommittee to exclude her is a most absurd overreaction to the situation. Board president Vickers said “it was a ‘big deal’” (Dee Perry’s action); but it is a much bigger deal to say negative things about a board member publicly, violate board policy on selection of president, and form a subcommittee excluding a member.

In addition, I am concerned that the district lawyer is also attacking Dee publicly, which is very unprofessional. A resident researching attorney Bresee reported in a recent letter to the editor that in 2008, according to the CVESD Reporter, Bresee was involved in falsifying documents to cover up crimes by district employees, and in 2010, according to Voiceofsandiego.org, a dispute regarding rules and exclusion of board member over conflict of interest resulted in Bresee being chastised publicly and asked to resign.

Reviewing Dee’s district emails and finding she revealed something confidential is serious, but there are much better alternatives other than exiling her from confidential meetings. This action destroys any possibility of the board working collegially. By the way, were all board members’ emails reviewed?

In closing, my knowledge of the situation is based only on what I have read in the newspapers. In the interest of disclosure, I do not know Dee Perry. This is a complicated situation, but this ongoing behavior by the board/district lawyer is breathtaking.

Debby Bowes, Laguna Beach

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  1. Excellent analysis from a distinguished, disinterested but experienced and well informed perspective. In concurrence let me add that I think Board members should be able to disagree and debate – pointedly if need be – but on the merits and not in a gratuitously uncivil manner. Most importantly, the impulse to disqualify or even make an outlaw of a dissenting member is perniciously undemocratic. The collusion by officious staff protecting bureaucratic self interest and easily manipulated elected members to weaponize secrecy in the name of “unity” and “speaking with one voice” is a legally illiterate and politically intolerant perversion of fundamental civic values. Finally, it simply is a false accusation by the Superintendent’s pit bull lawyer that Perry released a lawfully restricted document. The April 17 e-mail from Bresee was unlawfully and falsely denominated as confidential and privileged. The Brown Act specifically protects the right of Board members to disclose information claimed to be confidential if challenging the legality or propriety of the assertion of secrecy. See CA Ed. Code 54953(e)(2), a provision Vickers and Bresee apparently forgot to tell the willfully complicit and gullible Normandin, Wolff and Kelly about before orchestrating the de facto purge of an elected member of our School Board.

  2. Thanks, Debby, for clarifying the cogent issues in this situation and for the show of support for an undeserving target of an unjust political play. It’s increasingly difficult to speak truth to power, especially as a lone voice. Dee Perry is brave, indeed, for taking on this challenge. I believe she will prevail.


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