Student is the child of a school board candidate.
Attorney requests investigation.
During the public comments portion of the Tuesday’s school board club meeting, an attorney named Robert Tyler spoke on behalf of his client, Dr. Gina Nick, who is a school board candidate in Area 4, running against 12-year incumbent Karen Yelsey.
Here is a rough transcript of Tyler’s comments and the exchange he had with school board club president Vicki Snell. After the introductions, this is how it went:
TYLER: Gina has a child who is enrolled in first grade in the school district. Somehow her child’s personal information was released to some third parties. We’re not sure how that happened. This information, unfortunately, was published in [publication] and effectively used to attack Ms. Nick’s candidacy.
SNELL: Excuse me, uh, we’re… as her attorney… we don’t… we can’t, uh, have you speak about anything having to do with the election.
TYLER: This only has to do with the election because…
At this point, while Tyler is trying to answer Snell’s request, Snell starts to talk over him, speaking when she should be listening.
Finally, she stops and Tyler continues:
TYLER: “This is a time for public comments and it is completely inappropriate for you to (Snell starts talking. Again.) take my time away and I’d appreciate if you…”
Snell asks to have the three-minute timer stopped so she can continue her adversarial approach to a member of the public without penalizing his time.
SNELL: (interrupting again) Sorry – You’ll get your time, I just, I would like some direction on this, um, if you don’t mind, okay?
Tyler: I do mind. But you need to do what you need to do.
Let’s pause here, because it’s important to note what Snell tried to do and the shaky foundation on which she tried to do it.
Snell interrupted a member of the public to demand an action – that Tyler stop talking about the election – but she didn’t have any source or documentation to cite to compel him to do so. Nothing other than her request. She did not cite any law, code, or precedent, she just blurted out that Tyler can’t discuss the election.
Who says he can’t? I have made cursory reviews of four reliable sources: The CSBA, Roberts Rules as it pertains to public comments, the N-MUSD website, and the Brown Act text as it pertains to open meetings, special meetings, and emergency meetings, and there is NOTHING in any of these sources that prohibits a member of the public from talking about candidates or elections.
At this point there is some whispering and Snell comes back with – you’ll love this –
SNELL: Okay, I’m not quite sure how much time I took. Okay. (to someone else): Is, is, so you’re giving him like 20 seconds more or something? (Back to Tyler) Okay. I just want to, um, I want to make sure you do not mention anything that has to do with the election or ,
TYLER: That cat is out of the bag. (Snell starts talking over him yet again) What is concerning is the fact that an individual who is running for an office – that her child’s information was released out of a file. That never should have happened. It’s illegal. It’s unlawful and violates the student’s right to privacy. And frankly, I’m here to ask you as trustees, who are responsible for protecting our kids, for protecting the kids in the state, your school district, and their privacy, to find out what happened. (OBTW, Snell can be heard muttering uh-huh repeatedly at this time) Why did this child’s information get released?
I can tell you it’s being used to attack the candidacy of this individual. You can read the [publication] you can read the e-mails that have been circulated, and I’m filing a complaint with the Orange County Board of Education. Any public official using their position to influence an election is wholly inappropriate and it’s illegal.
So we’re filing this administrative complaint with the Orange County Board of Education and we’re asking that you do your own internal investigation without the necessity of the Orange County Board of Education or the State Dept. of Education come to you and ask that this investigation be done because I’m sure most of you are sitting here saying, ‘This never should have happened.’
I would suspect that you agree with me and I’m hoping that you get to the bottom of it to make sure this doesn’t happen again because this is America and we’ve seen things like this happen on a national level and we don’t need to have this stuff happen on a local school board.
At that point, Tyler is done and the super requested that he step into the hall with a district official to “get some more information and details.”
So, there you have it.
Now, please excuse me because I have to go revise “The List”… Again…