Local Currents: Positive Movement


“It appears there is a progression of introversion [among the Laguna Beach School Board.] The families and students come first. They are your clients. The union is not your client. You should be transparent, but have shown to be insular.” –Rick Putnam to the Laguna Beach Unified School District board members.


col local currents David Vanderveen by Gabe Sullivan-2968There has been a lot of conversation the past few weeks about whether or not Laguna Beach schools should start before Labor Day and why our school board is putting the interests of the teachers’ union ahead of the interests of the students and parents that they are elected to primarily serve.

It has been enlightening to see how many parents have come together to oppose the random calendar change that Sherine Smith and the Laguna Beach Unified Faculty Association (LBFUA, our local teachers’ union) created.

The late Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.” In the case of Laguna Beach, the issue of when summer stops and starts is a deeply local issue. It doesn’t matter what a person’s political party preference or ideology is, summer is the main event in our town and Labor Day is the holy week for our tourism, vacations and preparations to restart the year.

You’re either for summer in Laguna Beach or you are for a superintendent and school board that are willing to put LBUFA’s demands ahead of students’ and parents’ wishes and needs.

If you listen to the end of the podcast on the Laguna Beach Unified School District website for Jan. 22 (http://www.lbusd.org) you will hear the discussion that clearly indicates this calendar changed happened entirely to support LBUFA’s demands.

Finally, the school board has sent a message to parents this week agreeing to revisit the calendar issue and discuss it with them—after weeks of parents having to organize and demand input, standing in cramped school board meetings for hours and having to work through a barrage of half-truths and pathetic excuses that attempt to explain how a bad decision could find its way through a process designed to avoid public input.

It is encouraging that the school board is starting to listen and engage the public. It is encouraging that the school board has started to post agendas, meeting minutes and podcasts on their website.

The process is changing.

If the school board is serious about defending students’ and parents’ interests ahead of LBUFA’s, that will be most encouraging of all.


David Vanderveen is a Laguna Beach resident, husband, father and energy drink entrepreneur. His email is [email protected].

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