News

SRVUSD: Parents air frustrations at board meeting

Board members deny any wrongdoing; Feel 'disappointed' at recall effort

The SRVUSD Board of Education held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss its reopening plans and alleged violations of the Californian Brown Act.

Frustrations over the San Ramon Valley Unified School District's decision to postpone in-person learning due to the coronavirus pandemic were on display during the Board of Education's virtual meeting on Tuesday, where a collection of parents aired their disapproval of the board's decision.

SRVUSD logo.

More than a dozen community members addressed the board during Tuesday's meeting, primarily addressing frustrations over the board's decision to not return to in-person learning on Jan. 5 and alleged Brown Act violations committed during the board's Dec. 15 meeting.

The alleged violations have even spurred a collection of residents to initiate a recall effort against Board President Susanna Ordway, Board Member Rachel Hurd and Board Member Ken Mintz.

"I wonder how you sleep at night knowing that instead of being the collaborative leader who will stop at nothing to secure educational and equitable opportunity for our students, you are standing by while our students' educational well-being is being ripped out from under their feet by a teachers' union obsessed with power and control," district parent and former board candidate Priscilla Graft said Tuesday.

Board members denied the allegations, which in a formal letter sent to the district on Dec. 19, claimed that the board's vote to postpone in-person learning during its Dec. 15 meeting was not made with sufficient notice being given to residents -- a key provision of the Brown Act.

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"The action that the board took that evening, which was to push back the reopening date, was consistent with the agenda and it's our conclusion that as a result there was no Brown Act violation," district counsel Harold Freiman said during Tuesday's meeting.

"What we have before the board is an opportunity that the Brown Act affords you -- to make a commitment to use different language moving forward. This does not constitute an admission in any way of responsibility or guilt that the Brown Act was violated," he added. "It fits with a theme that I've discussed with staff that is, while we feel the agenda language was adequate on Dec. 15, there is always room for improvement and the district has made clear to its staff that it always wants to improve."

Without admitting any wrongdoing, the district during Tuesday's meeting did commit to using different verbiage in the future when referring to specific agenda items, hopefully ensuring more clarity for district residents on meeting items.

"I have to look at the hundreds and hundreds of people who have been participating in and viewing our meetings, which indicates to me that information about our topic -- and tonight this is about the only topic we have has to do with reopening schools -- so the word appears to be getting out," Mintz added.

After originally planning to return to hybrid in-person on Jan. 5, the board jettisoned those plans when the coronavirus pandemic began to surge throughout the state and region.

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"That analogy of 'we've been building the plane as we're flying it' really isn't that far off," board member Hurd said on Tuesday. "I was reflecting back to where we were in the middle of March when we decided to close, and there was a lot of pressure coming from parents of 'why the heck are you still open.' I mean it's hard to remember way back then but that was the case people were afraid to have their children at school."

"The whole situation has been fluid all along and anyone who pretends that it isn't really hasn't been in the thick of it," she added.

In reaction to the district's decision to postpone in-person learning, a group of San Ramon Valley parents has initiated the process to start collecting signatures for a recall petition which seeks to oust Hurd, Mintz and Ordway.

"This evening I received the notification of intent to recall and I have to say I'm disappointed in members of our community who felt that this was the approach that they needed to take in order to get their voices heard," board member Mintz said Tuesday.

"We have so many things going on in our environment these days between COVID and what's going on politically, there's a lot of fatigue out there, a lot of emotion out there and personally I don't believe that this is the best approach," he added.

While recall efforts typically require a certain percentage of the district's population to sign a petition requesting a special election, Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Debi Cooper said that due to the SRVUSD's recent transition from at-large to by-district voting, officials are unsure what number of signatures would be needed in order to launch a recall election.

"Our question to counsel is do the signers need to be from the district as a whole or must they be from the individual district? At this point, some were elected at-large (district-wide) and some members have been elected to a specific district after the change," Cooper said.

Once the number of signatures needed is identified, petitioners will have between 60 to 120 days to complete the process -- with the length of time also depending on the number of signatures needed.

Afterward, Contra Costa County officials will look to certify or reject the sufficiency of the petition. If certified, the SRVUSD board will have 14 days to order a special election, enabling voters to cast their ballots in favor or opposed to a recall.

The recall backers said they could not include new board members Laura Bratt and Shelley Clark in their petition effort because state law prevents recalling officials within 90 days of taking office. Bratt and Clark won election on the Nov. 3 ballot and took their seats last month.

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SRVUSD: Parents air frustrations at board meeting

Board members deny any wrongdoing; Feel 'disappointed' at recall effort

by / Danville San Ramon

Uploaded: Wed, Jan 13, 2021, 3:53 pm
Updated: Wed, Jan 13, 2021, 4:42 pm

Frustrations over the San Ramon Valley Unified School District's decision to postpone in-person learning due to the coronavirus pandemic were on display during the Board of Education's virtual meeting on Tuesday, where a collection of parents aired their disapproval of the board's decision.

More than a dozen community members addressed the board during Tuesday's meeting, primarily addressing frustrations over the board's decision to not return to in-person learning on Jan. 5 and alleged Brown Act violations committed during the board's Dec. 15 meeting.

The alleged violations have even spurred a collection of residents to initiate a recall effort against Board President Susanna Ordway, Board Member Rachel Hurd and Board Member Ken Mintz.

"I wonder how you sleep at night knowing that instead of being the collaborative leader who will stop at nothing to secure educational and equitable opportunity for our students, you are standing by while our students' educational well-being is being ripped out from under their feet by a teachers' union obsessed with power and control," district parent and former board candidate Priscilla Graft said Tuesday.

Board members denied the allegations, which in a formal letter sent to the district on Dec. 19, claimed that the board's vote to postpone in-person learning during its Dec. 15 meeting was not made with sufficient notice being given to residents -- a key provision of the Brown Act.

"The action that the board took that evening, which was to push back the reopening date, was consistent with the agenda and it's our conclusion that as a result there was no Brown Act violation," district counsel Harold Freiman said during Tuesday's meeting.

"What we have before the board is an opportunity that the Brown Act affords you -- to make a commitment to use different language moving forward. This does not constitute an admission in any way of responsibility or guilt that the Brown Act was violated," he added. "It fits with a theme that I've discussed with staff that is, while we feel the agenda language was adequate on Dec. 15, there is always room for improvement and the district has made clear to its staff that it always wants to improve."

Without admitting any wrongdoing, the district during Tuesday's meeting did commit to using different verbiage in the future when referring to specific agenda items, hopefully ensuring more clarity for district residents on meeting items.

"I have to look at the hundreds and hundreds of people who have been participating in and viewing our meetings, which indicates to me that information about our topic -- and tonight this is about the only topic we have has to do with reopening schools -- so the word appears to be getting out," Mintz added.

After originally planning to return to hybrid in-person on Jan. 5, the board jettisoned those plans when the coronavirus pandemic began to surge throughout the state and region.

"That analogy of 'we've been building the plane as we're flying it' really isn't that far off," board member Hurd said on Tuesday. "I was reflecting back to where we were in the middle of March when we decided to close, and there was a lot of pressure coming from parents of 'why the heck are you still open.' I mean it's hard to remember way back then but that was the case people were afraid to have their children at school."

"The whole situation has been fluid all along and anyone who pretends that it isn't really hasn't been in the thick of it," she added.

In reaction to the district's decision to postpone in-person learning, a group of San Ramon Valley parents has initiated the process to start collecting signatures for a recall petition which seeks to oust Hurd, Mintz and Ordway.

"This evening I received the notification of intent to recall and I have to say I'm disappointed in members of our community who felt that this was the approach that they needed to take in order to get their voices heard," board member Mintz said Tuesday.

"We have so many things going on in our environment these days between COVID and what's going on politically, there's a lot of fatigue out there, a lot of emotion out there and personally I don't believe that this is the best approach," he added.

While recall efforts typically require a certain percentage of the district's population to sign a petition requesting a special election, Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Debi Cooper said that due to the SRVUSD's recent transition from at-large to by-district voting, officials are unsure what number of signatures would be needed in order to launch a recall election.

"Our question to counsel is do the signers need to be from the district as a whole or must they be from the individual district? At this point, some were elected at-large (district-wide) and some members have been elected to a specific district after the change," Cooper said.

Once the number of signatures needed is identified, petitioners will have between 60 to 120 days to complete the process -- with the length of time also depending on the number of signatures needed.

Afterward, Contra Costa County officials will look to certify or reject the sufficiency of the petition. If certified, the SRVUSD board will have 14 days to order a special election, enabling voters to cast their ballots in favor or opposed to a recall.

The recall backers said they could not include new board members Laura Bratt and Shelley Clark in their petition effort because state law prevents recalling officials within 90 days of taking office. Bratt and Clark won election on the Nov. 3 ballot and took their seats last month.

Comments

H
Registered user
San Ramon Valley High School
on Jan 13, 2021 at 4:15 pm
H, San Ramon Valley High School
Registered user
on Jan 13, 2021 at 4:15 pm

Ken Mintz - if you are disappointed that the community has the ability to oversee your job through the democratic process, you have no business being an elected official. You should save yourself the embarrassment that a recall would bring and resign with immediate effect.

Rachel Hurd - you are clearly antagonistic toward the community as well. Your condescending approach to dealing with legitimate questions of leadership shows that you aren't in this "for the children" you are in this for yourself and your own ambitions. Thank you for your past service but it's time for you to find a new hobby that doesn't involve taking eduction away from 10,000+ kids.

Susanna Ordway - how are you the president of this local agency when you hardly know the functions of the body? When you stumble with the slightest bit of parliamentary procedure? How long have you been there? Have you slept through all the meeting prior? The organization of your running the meetings directly resulted in the Brown Act violation. Your continued inept approach at leadership is just exposing the district to more such legal and procedural missteps. And you can't even seem to properly complete a sentence!! Step down from being President immediately and from your trustee position as well as you are clearly not capable of holding your position and performing your duties.


H
Registered user
San Ramon Valley High School
on Jan 13, 2021 at 7:51 pm
H, San Ramon Valley High School
Registered user
on Jan 13, 2021 at 7:51 pm

CCC using at-large rules for this recall would be a big win for this group. While more signatures would be required, the same people could sign all three recalls at once and focus can be placed in demographically favorable areas. These signatures could all get collected in ONE WEEKEND!

All three of these trustees should seriously consider simply resigning their positions pending results of a special election to avoid the embarrassment that a recall election brings. People - especially in this area - are hungry to recall the Governor for the same issues and this would just be a poxy vote on that issue. The difference is here, the trustees are on the losing side of a single issue race.


Andy
Registered user
Montair Elementary School
on Jan 13, 2021 at 9:08 pm
Andy, Montair Elementary School
Registered user
on Jan 13, 2021 at 9:08 pm

Thank you to the parents who are supporting in-person school!! I'll be there on the next months ZOOM meeting.

At this point our only hope is to get this board recalled or pursue private school. I love Montair but I feel totally powerless with this incompetent school board and the SRVEA.

If you don't want you kids to go to in-person school, than stay home and do remote learning. You have a choice. The people who want in-person should have a voice too.


Z
Registered user
San Ramon
on Jan 14, 2021 at 8:24 am
Z, San Ramon
Registered user
on Jan 14, 2021 at 8:24 am

The entitlement dripping from the parents who constantly scream at the board and district is disturbing. Look at the cases, the hospitals, the area. We have no business demanding schools open right now. This group has been heard, over and over and over, they just didn’t get their way so now tantrum. The majority of the district choose to go remote even before the decision of December 15. (Removed; namecalling)


H
Registered user
San Ramon Valley High School
on Jan 14, 2021 at 8:56 am
H, San Ramon Valley High School
Registered user
on Jan 14, 2021 at 8:56 am

I L*O*V*E the comment from "Z" as it perfectly exemplifies the other side - name calling and immaturity in response to real questions of leadership and community representation. People like "Z" don't care about facts and reality such as Texas and Florida having full time in-person school with no ill effects on the community. No. "Z" here in response to that uses insults to further his position.

Keep it up "Z" as such blatant antisocial behavior shows more about your overall position than my words here ever could! Get schools back NOW and people like "Z" can make his own personal choice to stay at home forever and spare society as a whole from his rude authoritarian worldview.


Reader
Registered user
Danville
on Jan 14, 2021 at 9:30 am
Reader, Danville
Registered user
on Jan 14, 2021 at 9:30 am

I would have a more difficult time “sleeping at night” if staff becomes seriously ill because they returned prematurely. On a personal note, my grandchild’s private school remained in session as is permitted. They had to shut down for a month due to a Covid outbreak among staff. So much for staff not getting sick.


Sha-d
Registered user
San Ramon
on Jan 14, 2021 at 9:56 am
Sha-d, San Ramon
Registered user
on Jan 14, 2021 at 9:56 am

I’m a local nurse in the community who also has been an advocate of school openings and declared to return my kids to school on Jan 5th. I am however relieved that the board has decided to hold off reopening, as the numbers of covid patient’s hospitalisation and mortality, has been exponentially rising since Christmas. I strongly encourage speedy distribution of the vaccine to the community and our teachers, to restore confidence and come back. There have been delays and we can do a better job. We have not seen a catastrophic event to this scale in our lifetimes and what we see is directly related to the lack of logistical means to tackle this challenge. A recall is a great demonstration of public’s discontent and the democratic process, however the public and majority have already spoken. A recall is also going to cause even more delays in this state of disaster. Just go to your local hospital and see how spread thin, tired and overworked your providers are.


H
Registered user
San Ramon Valley High School
on Jan 14, 2021 at 10:06 am
H, San Ramon Valley High School
Registered user
on Jan 14, 2021 at 10:06 am

@Sha-d then why is there no issue in Texas and Florida where schools have been open full time since September? Are you saying that Texas and Florida have better hospital capacity or are you saying Texas and Florida schools are inherently safer than California schools? If what you are saying is true, why is California's spread WORSE than Texas and Florida when they have had in-person school for close to six months? Also, why have there been no issues with the MANY Kids Country daycare facilities located on SRVUSD campuses?

Your comments aren't taking the full account of facts into consideration. If Texas and Florida can reopen schools successfully, why can't we?


Sha-d
Registered user
San Ramon
on Jan 14, 2021 at 10:34 am
Sha-d, San Ramon
Registered user
on Jan 14, 2021 at 10:34 am

Web Link
@ H... I am not an expert, and not familiar with the details of what is going on in Texas and Florida, however if you look at the “Data” shared on the CDC website, it looks like Ca, mortality is much higher than Texas and Florida. Our communities are all different in terms of demographics, viral load, and density, and I believe those are the factors that are used to decide reopening. Another note is that every region has different resources, leadership and constituencies deciding on policies such as school openings, this is part of the democratic process. Now I totally agree that we can learn from models that are working. We pay experts who have dedicated their lives to these issues to do that. I absolutely agree with holding our elected officials accountable and appreciate the public voicing their concerns and hope that we can as a community present solution that serve us ALL.


H
Registered user
San Ramon Valley High School
on Jan 14, 2021 at 11:46 am
H, San Ramon Valley High School
Registered user
on Jan 14, 2021 at 11:46 am

@Sha-d So, you are saying that Contra Costa County is just fundamentally less prepared in every way than Travis County Texas? Both have the same general population. Are Travis County Schools fundamentally "safer" than SRVUSD schools? If not, why is it that Travis County has schools open, and has LESS cases per 100k residents? If you don't know the answers to these questions, is it really conscionable to keep kids out of school when it is clearly succeeding elsewhere? Further, if schools are open and there is a continuing surge, County could CLOSE the schools to send a message that further measures need to follow. What is left now for the county/state to signify a more dire response is necessary? Emerying is already taken away! Open up the schools in the same safe way as New York, Texas, Florida and other states and let's get back to solving problems instead of creating new ones.


Chester
Registered user
Blackhawk
on Jan 14, 2021 at 12:09 pm
Chester, Blackhawk
Registered user
on Jan 14, 2021 at 12:09 pm

School District made a mistake telling people they can go back to school, know full well the infections were going to pick up during Winter. That was a mistake.

While the virus doesn't impact kids much, kids can bring it to adults in the house. Until adults are vaccinated, we've no business sending kids to school.

You're not right simply because you are the loudest or the meanest. This is a very personal decision that even members of the same family don't often agree with.

I suppose the only option in the meantime is for school and parents to find willing participants--if there're teachers willing to teach in-person, and parents willing to send kids, let them. We'll see what they say when adults at home get sick. Leave the rest along on the remote option.

Just like some people think it's fine to go to restaurants with proper precautions, or some with no precautions. Others wouldn't bother. Make your own choice and don't attack everyone else who doesn't agree with you.

Peace!


Yashima Mahajan
Registered user
San Ramon
on Jan 14, 2021 at 1:19 pm
Yashima Mahajan, San Ramon
Registered user
on Jan 14, 2021 at 1:19 pm

How would concerned parents be notified when and where the petition is available?


H
Registered user
San Ramon Valley High School
on Jan 14, 2021 at 4:53 pm
H, San Ramon Valley High School
Registered user
on Jan 14, 2021 at 4:53 pm

We have a great set of both traditional and social media contacts. We will make a big deal about it. We should have more direction ahead of the next board meeting.


MamaP
Registered user
San Ramon
on Jan 14, 2021 at 11:45 pm
MamaP, San Ramon
Registered user
on Jan 14, 2021 at 11:45 pm

I fully support the board and their decision making process. I do not however condone the behavior of some of the parents who are loud, angry and hateful to other parents who don’t agree with them. It’s also very sad to see the name calling and hateful language being used towards the board and teachers. I’m appalled that adults, people who have kids can speak in this manner just because things aren’t going their way. Sad! Stop screaming at each other and pointing fingers! Work together to come up with solutions! The comments on the SRVUSD FB are appalling and quite embarrassing!


Mom of 2
Registered user
San Ramon Valley High School
on Jan 16, 2021 at 9:34 pm
Mom of 2, San Ramon Valley High School
Registered user
on Jan 16, 2021 at 9:34 pm

How is wanting what’s best for your kids now means you’re entitled? If distance learning isn’t working for your/my family and were promised to be back for hybrid, why can’t we ask or question? If you wanted remote, why can’t those who wanted hybrid fight for that? Your schedules have changed, just as hybrid and you got what you wanted, why can’t parents get their kids back on campus? It has no impact on your family at this point. If you have a blended household or child has 2 homes, that’s a different story because maybe you can’t control the other household. The name calling needs to stop and everyone needs to do what’s best for your family. Online school isn’t working for all. If you got what you want for your family, don’t fault those families who are struggling and want to be back in campus.


H
Registered user
San Ramon Valley High School
on Jan 17, 2021 at 8:30 am
H, San Ramon Valley High School
Registered user
on Jan 17, 2021 at 8:30 am

@Mom of 2

You are so right! These remote forever people can stay at home, homeschool for the next 20 years and it has no impact on us. I absolutely welcome these people to make the choices that best suit their families. The fact that these people vehemently personally attack anyone that doesn't think exactly like them is frankly fascist - the antiteses of the liberal democracy that we live in here.

Personally, I think it's insecurity and fear. These people have been scared by the social media the are addicted to to the point where the fantasy of posts online has eclipsed the realities of life right in front of them. Many states are open for full time return to school. **ALL** of these states have far less community transmission and positivity rates than CA. That's not opinion, that's a fact. These people cry wolf about hospital capacity when they ignore the Florida and Texas that both have schools open fully. If these people are right, why hasn't Texas of Florida exhausted all hospital capacity by now? Does Texas and Florida have inherently better hospital systems than CA? Do Florida and Texas have more ICU capacity than California? Do Texas and Florida have better doctors than California?

As for insecurity, these people deep down fear that they are making the wrong decisions and don't want their kids "left behind" so they instead of reevaluating their own choices instead take to social media t try and FORCE their choice on everyone else. That way, they don't have to feel like they miss out on anything if all of us are forced into making the same reactionary decisions to never leave home again.

The solution is simple CHOICE. Let the kids that want to go back to school go back to school. It's very simple. The stay at home forever group has many remote learning and homeschool choices. The return to school people have no choices at all. Provide the choice to the parents that value in-person education and socialization and this whole problem goes away. But, unfortunately, fascists and authoritarians don't care about any point of view that contradicts their own.


H
Registered user
San Ramon Valley High School
on Jan 17, 2021 at 8:42 am
H, San Ramon Valley High School
Registered user
on Jan 17, 2021 at 8:42 am

It's funny how quickly these fascists evaporate when confronted with objective facts. None of them have an answer for Texas and Florida having both less community transmission and positive COVID cases and also have schools open full time. The only defense these authoritarians have to objective facts is personal attacks and mudslinging. It shows the desperation of their argument. None of this is about following the science it's clearly about trying to achieve political goals by holding the education children as hostages.


Andy
Registered user
Montair Elementary School
on Jan 30, 2021 at 10:28 pm
Andy, Montair Elementary School
Registered user
on Jan 30, 2021 at 10:28 pm

Hey MamaP and Z... if you want to stay home and do remote learning than good for you. However, you have no right to shame other parents who want a real education for their kids. Bottom line our school board is a joke and they have no leadership courage. They bow down to SRVEA who is only representing their own self interests. They are only hiding behind their claim to be thinking about the students safety. Total garbage.


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