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OXNARD : Mediator Suggested for School Board

Several Oxnard residents, including Councilman Mike Plisky, suggested that board members of the Oxnard School District seek the help of a mediator to work through personal differences that have dogged them over the last few months.

Two parents approached the board Wednesday night with the suggestion, saying board members had a responsibility to work out their differences.

Board members have been mired in a dispute over what the two Latina members say is racial insensitivity on the part of the three white members.

Nina Duarte, an Oxnard parent who has followed the dispute, proposed that the mediation come in the form of sensitivity training.

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Duarte said board members Jack Fowler, Jim Suter and Dorothie Sterling need to be more sensitive to the feelings of the Hispanics on the board--Mary Baretto and Susan Alvarez--and in the community.

Plisky said he recommended mediation because a similar process had helped City Council members work better together.

“I’m not trying to meddle,” Plisky said. “I just hate to see people get bogged down on an issue like this and it occurred to me that mediation might help them wade through their problems. I think they need to be able to disagree on an issue and still work well together.”

Suter asked the board to place the matter on a future agenda for discussion.

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Suter and Sterling said they would support the use of a mediator, and Fowler supported it with reservations. Baretto and Alvarez did not comment on the idea Wednesday evening.


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