All Signs Point to Bunker Mentality
This Tuesday, April 21, 2015, at the Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) Governing Board meeting, multiple documents will be proposed for updates. One document that has caught our attention is N.4. PROPOSED REVISION TO BOARD BYLAW 9010 – PUBLIC STATEMENTS.
In this document, paragraph #1 currently reads as follows:
The Governing Board recognizes the rights of Board members to freely express their views and encourages open discussion of issues during the Board meeting. The Board believes that all Board members have a responsibility to express themselves, whether in agreement or disagreement with the other Board members, in ways that support the Board’s ability to govern the District.
If the proposed changes are accepted, it would be changed to read as follows:
The Governing Board recognizes the responsibility of Board members in their role as community leaders to participate in public discourse on matters of civic or community interest, including those involving the district, and their right to freely express their personal views. However, to ensure communication of a consistent, unified message regarding district issues, Board members are expected to respect the authority of the Board to choose its representatives to communicate its positions and to abide by established protocols.
All public statements authorized to be made on behalf of the Board shall be made by the Board president or, if appropriate, by the Superintendent or other designated representative.
The proposed changes to this document could easily be interpreted as a message to the new board members to “keep your mouths shut and know your place.” If this is the case, the irony is that the new board members actually hold the majority. And when new member Kevin Hill was candidate Kevin Hill, one of the things he said that resonated with us was that the Board should not report to the Superintendent, but the Superintendent should report to the Board. On Tuesday, Board members Farnbach, Hill and Hinkson’s vote on whether or not to accept this proposed revisions to BP 9010 will carry extraordinary importance.
A Legacy of Waste
If appearances are correct, Pulsipher and Rutz-Robbins have never hesitated to ignore the will of the people, making head-scratching decisions that wasted millions of tax dollars. Here are just two prime examples of what many consider to be their wasteful decisions.
Police raided three TVUSD campuses, as part of Operation Glass House, arresting 22 students, including our son, Jesse, who has autism. Nine of the entrapped students were special education students. They all spent significant time in jail. Soon after, a criminal judge threw out the charges against Jesse, but incredibly, TVUSD decided to expel him anyway. We filed for a due process hearing to stop the expulsion, which resulted in Judge Marian S. Tulley issuing a scathing decision against TVUSD, ordering Jesse’s immediate return to school.
Only 48 hours before Jesse’s return to school, the school board and Timothy Ritter attended a 7:00 a.m. emergency school board session behind closed doors, in which they voted to file an appeal of Judge Tulley’s ruling. This ended up costing the taxpayers enormous fees paid to law firms representing TVUSD, even though the remedy sought in the appeal was to expel Jesse. This appeal ended up being nonsensical, however, because even if the appeal would have been heard by a judge, it wouldn’t have happened until well after Jesse had graduated.
On November 4, 2014, long time board members Robert Brown, Richard Schafer (who first became board members in 1994 and 1995, respectively) and Vincent O’Neal were dumped by the voting public in what was clearly a “message” election. They were replaced by Julie Farnbach, Kevin Hill and Sandy Hinkson.
On November 18, 2014, two weeks after election night, the school board held its final meeting with the three lame duck members. A piece of business they unanimously approved was a (roughly) one million dollar contract extension for Superintendent Timothy Ritter, even though nearly two years remained on the current contract. Also approved were contract extensions for Ritter’s two assistant superintendents, Jodi McClay and Lori Ordway-Peck, (who has been accused of misrepresenting budget projections by the Temecula Valley Educators Association). The combined compensation packages that were approved total nearly two and a half million dollars, paid by the same citizens who voted the board members out of office.
This past November, all three incumbent members of the TVUSD school board, who appeared to function as little more than rubber stamps for Superintendent Timothy Ritter, were replaced on election day by the three candidates that we publicly endorsed. And let’s be frank; remaining board members Allan Pulsipher – who is currently the board president – and Kristi Rutz-Robbins are lame ducks as the writing is on the wall for 2016, when they are up for reelection.
Could it be that the old guard, Ritter, Pulsipher and Rutz-Robbins, who now find themselves in the minority, are adopting a bunker mentality?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Bunker Mentality as follows:
Full Definition of BUNKER MENTALITY: a state of mind especially among members of a group that is characterized by chauvinistic defensiveness and self-righteous intolerance of criticism
Examples of BUNKER MENTALITY: Faced with the threat of scandal, the company adopted a bunker mentality and refused to talk with reporters.
BP 9010 in it’s current state (click here)
BP 9010 with proposed redlined changes (click here)
BP 9010’s text if the proposed redlined changes were accepted (click here)