Monday, June 28, 2010

Avoiding the Public Scrutiny - Part 2

Click on the image for a closer look.

This image is all the information that was available for item 8.07 on the June 22nd Adelanto Elementary School District Board meeting agenda. The title of the item is Board of Trustees - Potential Misuse of District Email System. The public, from this agenda, could not possibly have any idea going into that board meeting what this item was about.

It turns out that the board president put this item on the agenda to have a discussion regarding the district not having an existing board policy that addresses the use of email by trustees. Board members are among the few with access to district wide options in the district email system. It has been used to send out happy holidays and have a great summer type messages. So why is there a need to have a cryptic board agenda item on the subject?

Apparently, the whistle blowing emails I sent district wide brought the issue to the forefront. I include this board item in my Avoiding The Public Scrutiny series because it is directly related to the subject.

I sent out two whistle blowing district wide emails a few days after the June 1st board meeting. In them I revealed that the superintendent and the board president signed a binding no opt-out memorandum of understanding agreement for the Race to the Top grant without prior board approval and public discussion. Nor was the action publicly called out (announced) in the next board meeting after signing the agreement. Legal opinions opined that board action was not required to sign the agreement. Regardless, they committed the district to mandatory requirements that should have been publicly reviewed and discussed prior to signing the agreement. And prior to my actions – the public didn’t know anything about it.

Board agenda item 8.07 was tabled to allow time to draft guidelines for trustees’ use of the email system. It seems, because of the whistle blowing emails I sent, that the intent of this board agenda item is to draft a policy that will curtail the use of the district email system by board members. You couldn’t get that from reading the board agenda item.

Ironically, I am not opposed to a policy on board members’ use of the district email system. Written properly it could be a wise thing. I just find it irresistible to point out that it will be about keeping board members quiet.

Board agenda item 8.07 is not an example of transparency in governance.

Below is my public board comment on that item.

Further AESD Board Comments from Carlos Mendoza III – Board Clerk

June 22, 2010

This comment is directed at board item 8.07 Board of Trustees – Potential Misuse of District Email System (at least it was item 8.07 online – it may be different in the printed agenda).

Board item 8.07 on the online agenda is totally blank of information. There is absolutely no information on what it is about. I sent an emailed request to the superintendent and board president to fill in the blanks – I hope that was not a misuse of the district email system. I sent the emailed request to them because they are both in charge of putting the board agenda together. And even though I’m sure they put together the agenda with the advice of attorneys – it’s not right to keep the information from the public.

I suspect that this board item has to do with the whistle blowing district wide email I sent out to the teachers. In that email I blew the whistle on the superintendent, Mr. Darin Brawley, and board president, Mrs. Lisa Marie Garcia, for signing and submitting a binding Race to the Top memorandum of understanding agreement without official board approval and without public discussion. Prior to my actions – the public was not made aware of their actions. Of course, I can be mistaken and it could be about something else (we would know if the agenda was clearer).

If the board item is about the whistle blowing email, then I suggest we bypass the district email system for future communication. I created a new (just for education issues) Facebook page. I have links to it on my blog – Educator Musing ( I encourage everyone to friend me, so we can interactively communicate as a group without potential misuses of the district email system.

Also, traditional email is old. Web 2.0 technologies provide better methods of interactive communication. More and more associations are creating invitation only professional online communities for their membership. The online communities provide chat, video, forum discussions and other methods of communication. I urge ADTA and CSEA to create their own online communities to also avoid any future potential misuses of the district email system.

Please visit me at Facebook: Carlos Mendoza

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