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Demonstrators show up in Laguna Beach to show support for school board member Dee Perry

Protesters gather in support of Dee Perry.
Protesters gather outside of the Laguna Beach Unified School District meeting Tuesday to show support for board member Dee Perry, who was excluded from a subcommittee.
(Faith E. Pinho)

About two dozen demonstrators gathered outside of the Laguna Beach school board meeting Tuesday to protest the treatment of a trustee they claim was unfairly ostracized by her peers.

It was the first regular meeting since trustee Dee Perry announced her intention to sue the board a couple of weeks ago. She is seeking a restraining order and at least $25,000 in damages.

Perry’s aim is to reverse a recent board decision that excluded her from a subcommittee on confidential matters and another that passed her over for president.

The sign-carrying group gathered outside the Laguna Beach Unified School District headquarters during the time the school board was scheduled to meet in closed session to discuss Perry’s pending lawsuit. The confidential meeting, however, was cut short when Perry refused to recuse herself.

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“I asked Member Perry several times whether she intends to recuse herself from discussion and deliberation ... and she has refused to confirm that she will recuse herself,” board President Jan Vickers said in a statement.

Vickers directed the district’s attorney to meet with Perry‘s lawyer to “see if an agreement can be reached.”

Perry said in an interview Wednesday morning that Vickers told her in an email last week that if she did not recuse herself the item would be placed on a public meeting agenda.

“Bottom line, she didn’t put it on the agenda like she said she would,” Perry said.

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Her supporters eventually moved into the district offices, holding up signs that read, “We stand with Dee Perry,” “Tyranny = decision making without representation” and “Why can’t we all just get along?”

Several speakers criticized the board for its treatment of Perry. A few called on the board to name Perry president or to recall the other board members.

“I can’t believe what’s going on with the board. I can’t believe the way you guys have been rewriting the laws and keeping her out,” said Jennifer Kinnier, a mother of two students in the district. “It saddens me that you’re excluding her voice because it makes me think that you don’t care about the children as much as she does.”

The meeting grew rowdy at several moments — especially when the audience applauded after one person’s comment, prompting Vickers to say, “We don’t need to take any more speakers if you don’t follow the rules.”

The audience booed. The board agreed to continue with public comment.


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