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Brown Act loses out against school board

J.D. Walker (Feb. 12 issue) asserts that there “has not been one iota

of proof” that the current school board violated the Brown Act by

making decisions in illegal meetings, held without public notice and

agendas. This assertion is contradicted by a preponderance of

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evidence -- much of it cited by the L.A. County District Attorney in

a letter sent to the school district Sept. 5.

In the letter, District Atty. Steve Cooley cites five separate

occasions in which the current board violates the Brown Act. On two

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occasions, board president Elena Hubbell’s own incriminating

statements make violations of the act practically a truth.

To quote Cooley’s letter: “At the May 16 public meeting, then

board president Hubbell, in explaining why she canceled a Feb. 28

labor negotiation session, stated, ‘What I had done was ask that, on

behalf of three board members that I had spoken to in the previous

week, they asked that [the labor negotiation session] be postponed.”

Cooley goes on to say, “Hubbell’s May 16 statement suggests that

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other than at a properly noticed public meeting, a majority of the

board communicated by some means and came to a decision to postpone

scheduled labor negotiations.”

A second occasion cited by Cooley involved the removal of an

agenda item from a meeting of the Burbank City Council. Hubbell was

quoted as stating, “The board believed the city didn’t have all the

information it needed, and even we didn’t have all the numbers. The

board agreed the city really needed to have the big picture first, so

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we agreed to ask the city to wait.” Cooley concludes, “The board’s

decision to request that the item be taken off the City Council’s

meeting agenda was not done during an open, public BUSD meeting.

Again, it seemed apparent from Hubbell’s statement that the BUSD

board met by some means and developed a ‘collective concurrence’ in

the regard. This constitutes a violation of the Brown Act.”

Walker goes on to assert that the Burbank Teachers Assn. agenda

“is to promote teachers’ issues, not the welfare of children.” This

argument is as specious as Walker’s previous inaccurate statements

about Brown Act violations. In the recent staff reductions

implemented by the board to fix the district’s mismanaged finances

(which resulted in the $3-million budget shortfall,) BTA steadfastly

insisted that cuts must be as far from the classroom and students as

possible. We opposed the reduction of school psychologists, although

these student support professionals are not members of BTA. We

argued, unsuccessfully, to retain the school guidance advisors,

realizing they provide an essential service to kids who need to work

on anger management and other social adjustment skills. School

guidance advisors were not members of BTA.

C. KIM ALLENDER

AND DIANA ABASTA

Co-presidents,

Burbank Teachers Assn.


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