It's rather rich that board member Sandee Everett wants to incorporate the word "decency" into her alternative assignment policy, considering I've yet to see her display any of it herself.
(photo courtesy Acorn Report Dawn's Twitter.)
Oh, I'm sorry. Am I not being "civil?"
Perhaps I'm just following the example the current board majority is setting for us community citizens per its bylaws. And, I'm tired. I'm really tired tonight.
If you've been following my Facebook page the last few days, you may have noticed that I shared with you some screenshots of emails sent to the district. The Freedom of Information Act is a funny thing, isn't it? The first batch of emails came in yesterday to fulfill a public records request that was not submitted by me (but was submitted months ago), in which the recipient requested to receive any and all correspondence that included mention of me or my blog as part of the request, among other things pertaining to their own need of documentation.
So, imagine my surprise last night, when I received a number of emails landing into the double digits containing emails from a woman in this community who has consistently been communicating to the district various things about me. I highlighted a few choice comments from her emails on my testimonials page, but I'll toss them in here for easy access as well.
To Mike Dunn and Sandee Everett: "I tracked down the real author (there was a fake one?) of Anonymous Mommy. She wrote she was VP of her charity. Jessica (Jess) Weihe is listed as VP. Found a Jess Weihe on Facebook with the same photo of Obama today and photos of the same dark haired little girl on both pages. Jess Weihe works for Mustang Marketing. CVUSD was using Mustang Marketing for a few years. I just called them and they still do PR for CVUSD. (No, we don't.) Time to kill the contract. Tell them why.
"I would be so embarrassed to have her as a mother. Poor little baby #2 is due in December."
"Anonymous Mommy, Jess Weihe, just had a baby on Dec. 26th. She posted that she is having trouble nursing. So instead of nursing and caring for her newborn, as well as her 3 year old, she left them on a rainy night with her husband to come to the board meeting. What kind of mother leaves her newborn to go out at night to search for conservatives to bash?"
"There is no making sense with Jessica Weihe. Best to stay away from her, and hope she gets tired of spending time reporting on CVUSD."
"Her personal blogs read like a mental patient's Aspberger's rant. She is vehemently anti-Christian, even though she was raised religious and attended La Reina."
"She writes poison pen posts."
"She has over 3,000 followers."
"Looks like Mike's political opponents are using her filthy mouth and website to do the mudslinging for them."
Well, my friends. Those are public records, so I feel no remorse in sharing them, since... if I'm going to call the board out on their transparency (or should I say lack thereof), I should certainly exercise it as well.
I did find it rather interesting that CVUSD candidate Angie Simpson was cc'd on every email by this community member! Something, something, knowledge is power, something, something.
Moving along, we have tonight's board meeting to discuss and it was by far one of the worst displays of good governance I've witnessed in my year and a half of attending board meetings. And I really mean that. We sat through hours and hours of ugliness last year, and yet the blatant disregard for process was on full display last night, with good governance on the dais nowhere to be found in the board majority members' actions.
I don't know whether to applaud them on the transparency of the sheer display of their collective ability to not give a fuck about anything or be angry that they didn't at least pretend. I know. I can't have my cake and eat it too. Wait, why not?
As you may know, tonight's big topic: REVISITING THE ALTERNATIVE ASSIGNMENT POLICY!
See, what had happened was...
The California Dept. of Education (CDE) caught wind that the CVUSD was abusing their literature annotations and misusing them to justify warning labels and asterisks on select literature listed on the syllabi. And guys, they were like hellllllllll no. Really. You know how I know? And how you can know? Well we can thank current board president John Andersen for spending more than a $1,000 of district money on outside counsel to file a public records request to the CDE! (It's a shame. I know someone who could have walked him through the process of sending an email, for free.) But you see, by paying up the ass, Mr. Andersen got to send the request on letterhead from the district, making it appear as though the request was coming from behalf of the board. We know this isn't accurate because board member Dr. Connolly stated she had never been made aware of this request nor voted upon it.
Yaaaaay transparency! Anywho, I've already written about all of that, HERE.
I did thoroughly enjoy Sandee Everett's efforts tonight, and in the Acorn, to defend John Andersen's actions by attempting to vilify those who have filed public records requests to the district, emphasizing that they cost the district money. I'm going to go out on a ledge here, but perhaps if board member Mike Dunn hadn't threatened a local business and its employer in response to her exercising her first amendment rights at a public school board meeting, they would have had one less request to fulfill.
But, like, maybe I'm just spitballin' Sandee. You tell me.
So, back to the alternative assignment policy discussion.
The board did two things, because, as I stated, they don't have any fucks to give about listening to their constituents.
NOTE: During last board meeting, board member Pat Phelps requested that the superintendent committee's policy FINALLY be placed on the agenda for review.
(Remember, the board unanimously voted in early fall last year to have a superintendent's committee formed — of staff administrators and teachers and Mr. Iezza and Director of Curriculum Jennifer Boone — to draft an alternative assignment policy. Their task: draft a policy that outlines how a parent can pursue opting their child out of a literature selection. This committee was to receive oversight from an ad hoc committee comprised of two board members — Pat Phelps and Sandee Everett.
The committee submitted their draft to the ad hoc committee for review, Mrs. Everett was like, thanks but no thanks, and went on to write and submit her own policy — the only policy EVER placed on the agenda for discussion prior to this evening — after Mike Dunn, current board member but then board president, lied and said he never received a formal request for that policy to be added to the agenda. Dr. Connolly came with receipts of her emailed formal request, and well shit, folks... if that doesn't give you just an INKLING of what this board majority is like, I don't know what to tell ya!)
So, as promised, the board did put on the committee's policy for review this evening per Pat's request... as a discussion item. They placed it on the agenda for discussion, AFTER an action item they put on the agenda to take place earlier in the meeting, to vote in amendments to the current alternative assignment policy.
Now, you're like ... wait a minute! Why would they vote on amending the current, heavily contested alternative assignment policy hastily voted in and implemented by the board majority last year, IF they are going to talk about the committee's policy?! Doesn't this seem out of order? I mean, by all intents and purposes, if the board majority votes in favor amendments to the current policy, are they really going to have a true discussion and review of the committee's policy? And, just what are these amendments? There are no amendment documents to review on the agenda.
Now here's the rub... these amendments were written by Sandee Everett. There were seven pages of amendments and they were only presented to the board at tonight's meeting to review and vote upon. Why would it be expected that board members would be adequately prepared to vote on seven pages of amendments they hadn't seen prior to the meeting — especially given the controversy and negative national spotlight the district has received regarding this policy and board majority's actions?! We're not talking a few tweaks here, regardless of the fact that a petition with nearly 3,500 signatures from community residents was emailed to the board opposing this policy. I'd think it wouldn't serve the board well to rush the process, AGAIN, to the same reaction and results.
But, PSSSSST. They don't care.
Now I, along with other community members noticed that board members Mike Dunn and John Andersen were apparently insanely fast readers, didn't feel like actually reading the amendments, OR MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, might have seen these amendments prior to the meeting, as they didn't have a single comment or reply to any of the seven pages Sandee shared this evening. This was not to be said for Dr. Connolly and Pat Phelps, who had clearly never seen the amendments until being handed them at the meeting this evening, and voiced so.
Pat Phelps and Dr. Connolly implored the board to table the vote until they could have a study discussion on the amendments.
But we all know how these fuckers operate by now. The board majority voted in opposition to provide ample time for review. Both Pat Phelps and Dr. Connolly attempted to outline their issues with the amendments as a result.
1) Sandee Everett wanted the word "decency" worked into the policy in some way. (note: the public didn't have access to these documents so some of this was hard to follow as she sped-read through that document faster than you can blink. I will have to review in full once video is up.)
2) Sandee Everett, willing to die on the hill over her use of the CDE annotations wanted to keep some semblance of the warning language derived from CDE annotations on the syllabi, as well as keep the asterisks, and basically have verbiage stating: this was once on the CDE so there!
There were lots others (cuz, you know... seven pages), but again... no access for us to see these pages, and with Sandee Everett speaking multiple times outside reach of her microphone, we missed a lot.
Sandee Everett, then, after listening to comments by Dr. Connolly and Pat Phelps said she still hadn't heard specific concerns regarding her amendments and I thought maybe she had blacked out on the dais. So, Dr. Connolly reiterated once more, her basic concerns, and then of course the major one: SHE HADN'T HAD TIME TO READ THE DAMN SAGA OF AMENDMENTS. She said, if necessary, she could read the document in 15 minutes and provide more feedback.
John Andersen recessed the board for FOUR MINUTES, and then forced Dr. Connolly to spit out her response. She went through page by page outlining her concerns. Sandee Everett agreed to two requests and then the board majority voted the policy into effect, with Sandee Everett saying: "Well we can still talk about the other one!"
Oh, fuck off.
And this makes me furious. Not because it's about winning or losing. No one WINS here. There is no winning. Teachers got up and spoke about how demoralized they have been throughout this process as a result of the board majority's actions. Specifically, how disrespected all involved in the superintendent's committee, who put real work and time into a policy that was basically trhowin in the trash by the board majority. Parents have been pitted against parents in this fake narrative that this is about parent choice. Parents have been pitted against teachers and teachers have been forced to literally beg to do their jobs and be respected for their credentials and experience. This has been ugly. Board member Mike Dunn has, in his assertion that certain books are pornographic and child abuse, essentially accused our curriculum committee and teachers of abusing children in their classrooms. This is and was inappropriate and un-excusable.
When I spoke in January regarding my concerns over the policy, board member Mike Dunn wrote to my employer and threatened my employer if they didn't silence me.
With 100% certainty, there are no winners here. Families are considering transferring out of the district as a result of this and teachers are considering resigning or retiring. None of this was necessary.
And, most importantly, all of this manufactured outraged that has been created by this board majority over a book that wouldn't have even fit the criteria for the alternative assignment (and literature review and selection) policy they shoved down the district's throat for approval, has left the students in the background.
Do you know how many times we had to be reminded this evening that we are here for the students? If you have to defensively remind your constituents that that is what our district is about, the board is failing us.
At the beginning of the meeting this evening, we were treated to honoring and recognizing valedictorians from Thousand Oaks High School. These kids had GPAs nearly hitting 5.0.! It was such a true delight to hear about them, their college acceptances, areas of study and to see the future is bright. And yet, the board has muddied itself in such controversy that I doubt they have much time to focus on student-first outcomes. It made me sad to know that this was the only real time during the meeting we'd be having these feelings of hope.
In between their approval of Sandee Everett's policy and the feigned agreement to talk over the committee policy, they sandwiched in a presentation by Asst. Superintendent of Instructional Services, Lou Lichtl, on the progress of implementing the four LCAP goals throughout the district. What an absolute shame this presentation was held on this night, between these items. It truly deserved an alert, hopeful audience and it was clear how much work has gone into meeting these LCAP goals and the implementation of them district wide. And yet, all I could feel by this point in the night, 3.5 hours in, was just defeat for our students. Defeat that they have a board that would rather create this controversy than work together for the best outcomes for the quality, diverse education they deserve. That, to me, as a parent of two daughters slated to enter the district, is very disheartening. Mr. Lichtl's presentation helped ease the feeling, and it allowed me to remind myself that there are many people working for the best for our students, even if they're not all seated on the dais.
And it's important you know all of this because we have the opportunity to vote in good governance candidates in November and de-seat harmful incumbents. We have the opportunity to vote in candidates who truly advocate for students, and have a demonstrated history of experience, volunteering and involvement in the district and student programs. I understand that naturally I will be the target for misdirected anger and frustration due to failures and misbehavior by the current board majority, but it's important to me that people are educated about what's going on in the district and who they should be voting for. I wasn't informed two years ago and I promised myself I would be in 2018. My daughters' quality of education is affected by these policy decisions. I OWE them my voice in these matters.
This isn't a partisan issue. This is a good governance issue. The board lacks a current board majority that behaves in manner befitting of a school board member, let alone the ability to see past their agendas and put students first. You don't need to vote "democrat" or "republican" in November. You just need to vote for the candidates that will be advocates for your child's best education.