School Board Cancels Closed Meeting on OCR Investigation "On Advice of Counsel"
Original post made by Curious, Fairmeadow, on Apr 28, 2013
The Brown Act includes specific exceptions to the requirement that all school board meetings be held in public. The Brown Act also requires that the public agenda for closed sessions make clear the exception that applies for each item. There is no Brown Act exception to discuss "accommodations" for individual students. Such issues are typically handled by staff in IEP or 504 meetings, not by the Board of Education.
When a member of the public suggested during the public meeting that the cancelled item was in fact a discussion of one or more of the four U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights investigations of PAUSD, Tom responded by simply reiterating that the closed session discussion was cancelled "on advice of counsel."
The Board of Education has held no public sessions on the facts surrounding the OCR investigations since their disclosure in January and heard no public updates on compliance with the settlement agreements.
The sole exception was a session in February where the district's lawyer, Laurie Reynolds, provided a presentation that that Weekly concluded was "incorrect, misled the board and the public and engaged in pure obfuscation." See Web Link.
The board has, however, discussed the OCR investigations in closed sessions on the Superintendent's performance and potential litigation, but has made no public comment on any actions taken or information gained in those closed sessions.
The board has also rejected calls from the press and the community for full public disclosure of the facts surrounding the district's failure to protect student civil rights in these cases.