WE THE PEOPLE and OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Reef-Sunset administration seems intent on devising a plan called “How to Discourage and Limit Public Input” rather than complying with laws requiring MORE INCLUSIVE AND TRANSPARENT school governance. LCFF/LCAP legislation calls for INCREASED STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT IN DECISION-MAKING, and the Brown Act clearly DEMANDS FACILITATION OF PUBLIC PARTICIPATION in GOVERNMENT DECISIONS. But the local school board appears to have been brainwashed by their district office employees to believe that public input is neither needed nor desirable.
THE LATEST PLOY? Hire an attorney (additional public expense) to come sit at the Board table and counsel trustees on how they can LIMIT PUBLIC COMMENT at meetings. Apparently this lawyer is unaware that RSUSD written meeting guidelines state that “The Board invites public comment on items they are deliberating” following the introduction of that item on the agenda, and goes on to explain, “Both Board and AUDIENCE MAY PARTICIPATE IN THIS DISCUSSION. Simply raise your hand, be recognized by the President, state your name, and present your views.” (The segment of the board meeting specifically titled “Public Comment” limits public comment to “any topic not already on the agenda.”)
Moreover, RSUSD Board Policy provides that: Members of the public are ENCOURAGED to attend Board meetings and to address the Board concerning ANY ITEM on the agenda or within the Board's jurisdiction. Individual speakers shall be allowed three minutes to address the Board on EACH AGENDA OR NONAGENDA ITEM. The Board shall not prohibit public criticism of its policies, procedures, programs, services, acts, or omissions. (Government Code 54954.3) In addition, the Board may not prohibit public criticism of district employees. (RSUSD Policy 9323)
With regard to stakeholder engagement in writing the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), the Board and school administration have declined to implement many excellent State and PTA suggestions for involving the public and the school community in AUTHENTIC DECISION-MAKING. Administration seems very reluctant to open previously closed doors to actual participation in governance processes, preferring to “do it themselves” with no outside “interference.”
They have made it difficult for stakeholders to obtain pertinent information about district spending of public monies, requiring inquirers to jump through hoops and pay fees that would be totally unnecessary if such information were routinely made available in monthly meeting agendas and online reports. Lacking this information, the Public cannot adequately monitor and evaluate expenditures and determine the most effective use of taxpayer education funding. TRANSPARENCY and INCLUSION would appear to be nasty four-letter words to this administration, and secretiveness the imperative.
COME INTO THE 21st CENTURY, Board and District Office! The age of closed door machinations is long past!
“We, the People” are SOVEREIGN:
THE PEOPLE of this State DO NOT YIELD THEIR SOVEREIGNTY TO THE AGENCIES WHICH SERVE THEM.
THE PEOPLE, in delegating authority, DO NOT GIVE THEIR PUBLIC SERVANTS THE RIGHT TO DECIDE WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE PEOPLE TO KNOW AND WHAT IS NOT GOOD FOR THEM TO KNOW.
THE PEOPLE INSIST ON REMAINING INFORMED SO THAT THEY MAY RETAIN CONTROL OVER THE INSTRUMENTS THEY HAVE CREATED. (Brown Act 54950)