For too long, I have been writing to you about the lip service given to community input by the administration and the board. I don’t have to make up stuff, they just keep making the same “Butt out!” moves over and over.

We saw it with the input on Area maps and the Collegiate Calendar and we’re seeing it again with today’s announcement of a secret special meeting on Thursday that was announced only this morning. Forget about what they say or what is written on the district website: They don’t care what you think.

The only exception to that is when there is a blunder or scandal and the public outcry is so great that they have to listen to you. Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of that in recent years.

So, what’s this new secret special meeting all about? What is so urgent that they absolutely, positively MUST HAVE a secret special meeting in three days? Here is the description:

“Convene the Public Hearing on the provisions of the International School for Science and Culture Charter Petition, at which time the Board of Education should consider the level of support for the Charter Petition by Newport-Mesa Unified School District (“N-MUSD”) teachers, other N-MUSD employees, and parents.”

Check it out: At the meeting, the board “should consider the level of support for the Charter Petition by Newport-Mesa Unified School District (“N-MUSD”) teachers, other N-MUSD employees, and parents.”

If I’m reading that correctly, it reads like the administration is advising them to determine which way the charter school wind is blowing, that is, they should try to figure out whether to support it based on what the three groups are likely to say.

Reads to me like more “Ready! Fire! Aim!”

It’s a public hearing, right? Unfortunately, with so little notice and at a time when many people are working, few members of the public can attend. But as I’ve been writing for years, that’s not an oversight or a mistake, that is done on purpose. That’s the only way to explain why they keep scheduling these secret special meetings at inconvenient times.

I’ve even called them on it at a couple of meetings. One time, I thought we’d worked out a test of a solution but maybe the super didn’t like being told what to do so he ignored it. Hard to say.

What I do know is that this meeting could have been announced today but scheduled for next week so that people have a chance to schedule the time. Or, it could have been folded into a regular board meeting. Ah, but that would have put that regular board meeting on the lengthy side and the trustees don’t like that.

But wait, there’s more!

In the “Comments” section of the announcement is this:

“Pursuant to Education Code Section 47605(b), the N-MUSD Board of Education must hold a public hearing on the provisions of the Charter Petition, at which time the Board of Education shall consider the level of support for the Charter Petition by teachers employed by N-MUSD, other employees of N-MUSD, and parents.  During this agenda item, the charter petitioners and the public have the opportunity to express their comments concerning the proposed charter school.”

First… they’re not holding this meeting because they want to, they’re holding it because they have to.

Second… Oh, how nice – the public has an opportunity to express their comments concerning the proposed charter school! Yay! Oh, wait, it’s in only three days and at 4 p.m. Rats! You can’t attend, can you?

Oh, too bad. They’ll just have to hold the meeting without you…

And third, also from the Comments section… “Currently, N-MUSD is conducting a comprehensive analysis of the Charter Petition and assessing whether it complies with applicable legal requirements and if granting the Charter is consistent with sound educational practice.  The Board of Education’s action to approve or deny the Charter Petition will be scheduled for a future Board of Education meeting, currently anticipated to be a special meeting on November 15, 2018. 

Translation: “We’re looking at this 350-page proposal to determine all the reasons why it should be denied and we’re planning to announce the denial on Nov. 15.”

That denial is a done deal. Anyone who believes otherwise and cares to bet a pizza at Sgt. Pepperoni’s can reach me by e-mail if you have it or through the Comments button.

So, what’s the rush? Why make this very important decision in just three more weeks? They’re scared, that’s what. The election cycle is over on Nov. 6, the new trustees – at least two and as many as four – take office in early December and they don’t want this to be left to people who may upset the status quo.

That’s what.

Steve Smith

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