OPEN MEETINGS -- Twenty-five years after the California Court of Appeal established that doing so was an unlawful serial meeting in violation of the Brown Act, a school board member is accusing his peers of using an unpublicized telephone poll to gain approval of action to be taken, reports Natasha Lindstrom in the Victor Valley Daily Press in Victorville.

A member of the Adelanto School District Board of Trustees is
accusing top district officials of violating the state’s open meeting
law by holding a “secret phone vote” over applying for competitive
federal funds.


Board Clerk Carlos Mendoza said he believes that Superintendent Darin
Brawley and Board President Lisa Marie Garcia breached the Ralph M.
Brown Act by signing a state commitment to the second round of the
federal Race to the Top program, without any public discussion or board
approval.

“The reason why I’m blowing the whistle on this is I have no idea if
they’re ever going to make their actions public, because they haven’t
yet and I don’t understand why,” Mendoza said.


The national grant competition could award states up to $700 million
for education innovation and reform — with several strings attached,
including making changes to teacher evaluations, complying with new
national education standards, easing limits on charter schools and more.


On May 21, Mendoza said, Brawley phoned and e-mailed board members to
poll their opinions on signing the binding Race to the Top memorandum
of understanding between the district and California Department of
Education. The application was due to the state by May 22.


Mendoza said he refused to agree to the MOU before it could be
publicly discussed and he could ask more questions about its
implications. He added he wasn’t sure how his fellow board members
responded.

“The superintendent conducted a secret phone vote outside of a board
meeting to take action on an item never posted on an agenda,” Mendoza
wrote in a May 25 letter to the San Bernardino County District
Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit.


Garcia said she signed the agreement under the advice of attorneys,
and she expects the June 22 school board agenda to include discussion
and an official vote to ratify the grant participation.


The Adelanto School District is the only school district in the High
Desert and one of three county-wide which applied for the funds,
according to the California Department of Education.