At the regular meeting of Feb. 12 – the one for which the agenda was posted the prior Friday – I spoke to the board about the Estancia Zone informational meeting in which they participated a week earlier.

The purpose of the evening was to inform Mesa Verde parents on the programs and people in the Estancia Zone schools in an effort to attract them instead of having them send their kids down the hill to Huntington Beach or elsewhere.

I thanked the trustees for attending, praised Charlene Metoyer for the way she ran the session, and said that the schools principals who spoke would give any Mesa Verde parent confidence.

Metoyer got high marks that night for asking the audience if there were any more questions. That sparked an important discussion.

I told the board that an otherwise enjoyable evening was marred by a comment made by¬† Trustee Vicki Snell. Snell said that Mesa Verde parents do not send their kids to Adams El because kids from Costa Mesa’s Westside are being bused there.

This is the second time I’ve heard her make this claim.

I told the board that this was insulting and it was wrong. I told them that if they want to attract more students to Adams, they need to do just one thing: Improve academic performance. I told the board that IMO, the school is lacking a long-term, comprehensive, strategic plan and that “putting the monkey on the backs of Mesa Verde parents is not a paln, it is an excuse.”

I spoke for exactly one minute, thirty-one seconds.

As I was returning to my seat – to my back, Snell said, “I’d like to make a comment. I was talking about my personal experience as my children went to that school and that’s what I was talking about. I wasn’t talking about currently, I was talking about my personal experience, which I have a right to do.”

As she was responding, I was walking back to the podium.

When I arrived, Snell, apparently forgetting that she is no longer board president and does not run the meetings, said, “Thank you. You’ve had your three minutes.”

Metoyer asked me politely to stand down, to which I replied, “May I make one statement? One sentence?”

“I would really rather you didn’t.”

It wasn’t what Metoyer said, or how she said it, it was the look on her face that caused me to back off. I returned to my seat, collected my wife, and left.

Here’s what: I did not speak for the three minutes allotted to me. Not even close. Despite that, and despite the fact that after years of attending board meetings and watching speakers return to the podium to exchange thoughts with trustees, I was not allowed to do so.

I was selectively denied the privilege of completing my three-minute appearance.

That was then.

Until lunchtime today, I had planned to attend tonight’s meeting and tell the board the sentence I was going to say that night. But I met my wife for a terrific lunch (Taqueria Zamora on Main St. in Santa Ana if you’re ever in the area) and remembered something that I had forgotten: It would have been a waste of time. Nothing will change until we get at least two new board members elected next year.

Vicki Snell has no idea how to raise academic performance at Adams to the point where Mesa Verde parents once again send their kids there. Worse, she is relying on a superintendent who doesn’t know, either. How do I know he doesn’t know? Because he has had about six years to do it and he has failed.

But there’s even worse news. Not only does Snell not know, she will cling to her board seat just because she wants to while the community suffers for her inability to step aside and let someone else try.

I heaped a lot of praise on the board, Metoyer, and the principals that night. I even offered a recommendation that they put together the aforementioned plan. Despite all that, Snell chose to reply to her comment about Mesa Verde parents.

Had I been afforded the same right as past speakers and allowed to state my one sentence, I would have looked at Snell and said, “It’s not about you.”

Steve Smith

 

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