This is the story of...
Today, I present to you a timeline of events, without biased commentary. Simply the events as they have unfolded since the January 23 CVUSD board meeting at which I spoke during public comments about my concerns regarding the haste implementation of the alternative assignment and curriculum review policy.
Please keep in mind, that the concern we are discussing here is not whether you agree with my opinions or not. The content of my speech does not matter. What matters, and this is the takeaway, is that no publicly elected official should be able to threaten and/or seek retaliation against a constituent and the constituent's employer in response to public comments made at a public session of a school board meeting by the constituent.
A constituent should never fear exercising their right to free speech, and a publicly elected representative is not to abuse the power of their position to threaten or intimidate constituents in any way.
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT MY COMMENTS WERE IN REGARD TO, READ THIS BLOG FIRST FOR BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT.
January 23, 2018
CVUSD School Board Meeting
I spoke during public comments.
Here is a link to the my speech. Click on G: Public Comments and scroll to 12.07 for the beginning of my comments.
Here is the text of my public comments, in full:
Good evening Dr. McLaughlin, President Andersen, board members and district personnel,
Let me start off by saying I was so pleased to see Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” on the curriculum list this semester for 9th grade English. Thank you for removing it as a hostage agenda item and voting in favor of approving the purchase order after, much to the dismay of the public, you were able to push through your board majority vote on a hastily written alternative assignment policy that is still being implemented as I speak.
Now, upon seeing the title on the district-created addendum that is being distributed to parents this week — an addendum which contains asterisks per CDE annotations — and a warning note which reads: “This book was published for adult readership and thus contains mature content. Per annotations produced by the California Department of Education, books identified as having “mature content” may contain portrayals of abusive human rights violations and rape as well as graphic language, mature situations, and other content potentially disturbing to students,” I was surprised to see that Part Time Indian was not asterisked.
Let me say it again for those in the back. The book, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” which started this whole circus of creating a formalized alternative assignment policy is not asterisked as “mature.”
I’m not really surprised. Unlike Mr. Dunn, I actually read the book in its entirety. In fact, I led an online book reading of Part-Time Indian, in which 40 local parents participated in, so that we could be better informed as to the concern regarding this literature selection before its approval, concern which Mr. Dunn raised at a June board meeting over the phrase “kicked him in the balls.” I have to say, I was quite disappointed to find no salacious material! You all had me bracing to clutch my pearls! Mr. Dunn, who cannot and has not confirmed he actually read the book in entirety, (I mean, he couldn’t even find time to attend board governance training) falsely and inappropriately asserted in a public letter to the Acorn that approving this book was akin to “child abuse” and that it was “pornographic” in nature. Aside from noting how reprehensible it is to assert that our curriculum committee and teachers want to impose pornography on our students and take part in an act of child abuse, if this were to be true, I find it curious it’s not asterisked as such here. It’s because it’s not pornographic, nor, as Mr. Dunn would have our community believe, child abuse.
Mr. Dunn, how dare you suggest critically acclaimed literature written by a Native American about his childhood on an Indian reservation equates to child abuse.
I’m aware of Mr. Dunn’s tactics to further disperse a false narrative regarding this title. In an email exchange with Mr. Dunn about this book this past summer, I specifically asked him to identify passages from the book which he found to be problematic. He responded by sending snippets of passages from another book which contained sexual content, in attempts to pass them off under this title.*** Perhaps he was hoping I was like so many of his blind followers, hanging on every planted phrase and word at board meetings and public editorials, without doing my homework. Mr. Dunn, I did my homework. I read the book. Again we ask, did you?
(***note from AM: Update on this point. Oops. I have to issue a mea culpa. When Mike Dunn emailed me excerpts from "Snow Falling on Cedars" in response to our email correspondence about "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," and an opt-out policy, he DID label them as such. I just came across the emails as I was cleaning up my inbox. I mistakenly said he had not labeled them, but I had that confused with a different email correspondence.
Now, while he did identify the passages, which he randomly emailed me considering we were never discussing this book, his statement that these are on the required reading list is false. However, I thought I should correct my assertion that they were emailed to me without identification, when he clearly did identify them.)
I find it extremely troubling that this board has allowed a board member to disperse a false narrative about this book, in order to take advantage and greenlight a shoddy alternative assignment policy (one that also contains verbiage regarding the literature selection and review process, because, why not sneak in a two-for one, right?) written by one board member, with no true collaboration that was to come from a Superintendent’s committee as promised and publicly voted upon this past fall. Lest we forget, we were never presented the Superintendent’s committee’s policy for discussion, although Mrs. Everett did her best to assure us during a lengthy PowerPoint presentation that the two drafts weren’t all that different. I’m glad she had that time to present, as well as cherry pick and read off parent testimonials that supported her policy, while denying students who had stood for six hours the chance to speak.
I also find the addendum’s content misleading, painting books with a broad brush stroke as “published for an adult readership”, when this is simply not true of Youth Adult novels, like “The Hunger Games” asterisked and listed on curriculum.
This policy is sloppy. The implementation of it, forced and rushed is sloppy. And all the nonsense about supporting parent choice? Well, we know from last meeting, when the board majority voted to be able to hand pick their own community members for the “parent but not just parent committee” that this was nothing more than orchestrated and feigned outrage in order to justify creating an alternative assignment and literature selection policy with oversight from board members' friends that align with their political agendas.
I’m glad the district was able to produce this addendum to send home. Has the district made any progress on these alternative assignments they’ve boasted about and guaranteed to parents? Last I heard, no such assignments yet exist. I imagine this would be problematic for teachers, who potentially will feel the brunt of that additional work, considering the district-created alternative assignments aren’t readily available. If my children were of age to be receiving such an addendum, I most certainly would not sign this addendum.
I’ll see you all at the polls in November. I for one, and Done With Dunn and done with this board majority wreaking havoc on our curriculum and undermining our teachers in the process.
January 25, 2018
Email exchange between board trustee Mike Dunn, and my employer, Scott Harris (Mustang Marketing).
All board members and media representatives from the VC Star and the Acorn were CC'd on these emails by Scott. Kyle Jorrey with the Acorn shared most of these on his twitter. This is the exact order of the conversation, and it includes the full text exchanged between Mike and Scott.
The correspondence begins with Mike Dunn's first email, sent at 7:01 a.m to Scott Harris.
Read from the bottom up.
Here is Scott's response to Mike's request for mediation.
Following the media sharing the emails, I made a post on my Anonymous Mommy Facebook page referencing the situation. You can find that post HERE to read in full.
I reached out to Dr. McLaughlin to discuss how to respond to Mr. Dunn's email. He asked for patience while he reviewed the emails. Later, I received an email from the executive administrative assistant offering a similar statement to what can be read in the VC Star article linked below.
The media started covering this story. You can read articles on it from:
The VC Star
KCAL9 news segment
January 27, 2018
Mustang Marketing received a voicemail from someone stating that they would not be doing business with Mustang Marketing, and would also tell all of their friends not to do business with Mustang Marketing, in support of Mr. Dunn's actions.
January 28, 2018
My email to the board in full
January 30, 2018
Mike Dunn's response to my email to the board, and our correspondence in full today.
*start from the bottom up, with Mike's first email to me this morning.
Mike Dunn emails VC Star and The Acorn to suggest I was banned from Facebook for cyber bullying.
Read from the bottom, up.
This was the post on Facebook that was reported shortly after I shared my first post about this situation on my page, and for which I banned for three days. I was banned for using the word "masturbate" according to those who attempted to have the decision repealed.
Now, you tell me if this is acceptable.
February 1, 2018
THIS IS MY LETTER TO THE ACORN
February 2, 2018
CVUSD Agenda Meeting posted
FULL AGENDA HERE
Relevant agenda Action Item submitted by board member Dr. Betsy Connolly
6.1 Approval of Resolution Regarding Censure of Board Member Mike Dunn
Approval of Resolution Regarding Censure of Board Member Mike Dunn
Should the Board of Education adopt a resolution censuring Board member Dunn for his violation of Board Bylaws and his failure to follow good governance standards as demonstrated by his unacceptable, unprofessional conduct toward a member of this community and her employer?
During the January 23rd Board meeting, a community member offered criticism of Board member decisions during her public comments. Mr. Dunn contacted the community member's employer, stating that if there were further attempts to speak critically at future board meetings, member Dunn would follow her public comments by announcing the name of her employer accompanied by his assertion that the business owner supports her opinions. This clear attempt to suppress criticism from a member of the public by creating potentially adverse consequences for the speaker and her employer is unacceptable and inconsistent with the values of this Board.
Mr. Dunn's conduct reflects poorly on the school Board and on the CVUSD as a whole. The Board desires, through the adoption of this resolution, to communicate to the residents of this district our intention to respect and uphold the rights of all citizens to exercise their free speech rights during public comments even, or especially, if that speech is critical of the actions and decisions of Board members.
Dr. Betsy Connolly
Board of Education
PROPOSED RESOLUTION ON CENSURE OF MIKE DUNN
Due to the expected turnout from community, the following will be the process for those wishing to attend the school board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. at the district board room located at 1402 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks (located in Conejo Valley High School, formerly South Building)
Please be advised:
At 3:45 pm, tickets will be given out based on a first come, first served basis for the Board Room, CVHS Lobby and 3 classrooms (for live stream viewing). The amount of tickets is based on the maximum capacity per fire code. There will be no standing room in any of the areas as they need to be kept clear for safety. At 4:30pm, doors will open for ticket holders. There will be a limited amount of reserved disabled seating and also on a first come, first served basis. Upon your arrival, please locate a staff member to obtain your disabled seating.
PUBLIC COMMENT CARDS (Blue) will be collected at a specified table. ONLY ONE CARD WILL BE ACCEPTED PER PERSON AND YIELDING TIME WILL NOT BE ALLOWED (need to confirm with John if he will, in fact, prohibit this). Speaker time and duration of Public Comments will be determined by total received. President Andersen will announce approximately 10 speakers at a time. Please line up in the Board Room when called (you will be directed by staff). Speakers not present at podium will be dismissed.
PUBLIC WRITTEN STATEMENT FORMS (Yellow) will also be collected at a specified table. Within 1-2 days after the meeting, statements are scanned and emailed to all Board members.
1/30/2018 05:48:47 pm
Have you gone back into casting? This plays like an episode of the Real World Meets Big Brother.
1/30/2018 07:06:29 pm
Thanks. I think it might also be a good idea to post the timeline of the PTI letters to acorn and emails to show that what you are referring to in your comments at the meeting. I'm happy to compile the acorn letters Dunn sent in. You'd have to fill in the emails. He's accusing you of lying, yet hasn't given an example. I don't want there to be more work for you, but many people are new to the conversation and might appreciate the back story.
1/30/2018 07:14:16 pm
I don't disagree.
1/30/2018 09:23:49 pm
I agree 100% that it is about his attempt to suppress your right to free speech.
1/30/2018 07:46:40 pm
There are so many people out there who have also spoken out about Mr. Dunn so why is he picking on you? Because he’s scared of you, because you do the work, you speak truth to power, you have educated yourself on the topics and policies and know way more than he does and are definitely more well read and well spoken.
1/30/2018 08:08:36 pm
Nothing acceptable at all about it. Just finished watching the video. You were blunt about your disapproval of Dunn and of the supposed 'opt out policy'. You didn't use insults, bad language nor did you raise your voice. That's a whole lot better than most conservative pundits spoke their disagreement with President Obama, and than plenty of people speak of Donald Trump today (clears throat).
1/30/2018 08:10:37 pm
Oops. That's 'how do you solve a problem like Jess Weihe'?
1/31/2018 10:01:43 pm
My daughter just enrolled as a new student in CVUSD, and I’m horrified to learn of the actions of this school board. It would be one thing if this were Depression-era Alabama, but I absolutely can’t believe this is happening in California in the 21st Century!! I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Dunn is aware that even the Bible contains portrayals of rape, mature situations, (mildly) graphic language, and of course is chock full of abusive human rights violations. One wonders whether Mr. Dunn has read anything at all, actually. You’d think that someone willing to devote the time to being on the school board would have made education a priority in his own life, but go figure...
2/2/2018 07:43:27 pm
Keep up the good work! We're standing behind you!
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