On January 10, the San Dieguito Union High School District Board held a repeat election of officers to “correct and rectify” any alleged violation of the Brown Law associated with holding an organizational meeting prior to public comment.
In December, the board selected newly elected trustees Rimga Viscanta as president, Jane Lea Smith as vice president, and Fan Anderson as clerk. Last week’s vote remained largely the same, with the exception that Anderson rejected the clerk’s nomination and instead appointed a trustee, Katrina Young. Although Young preferred Anderson to serve in order to have “fresh new voices” in the board’s leadership, she accepted the nomination and was elected.
The board’s action was taken in response to a complaint that postponing the organizational meeting to public comment was an attempt to silence opposing views and violated the Brown Law, the board’s bylaws, and the rights of members of the public who wished to comment prior to the election. officers.
The decision to reschedule the organizational meeting was based on past practice and how other districts currently conduct officer elections. According to Wiskantha, the decision to reselect officers was voluntary to establish best practices going forward, and was not a legal requirement due to any provisions of the Brown Act.
“I really think that we, as a school district, need to stop bickering with adults and focus on the students,” Viscanta said. “We didn’t have to do this action again, we chose to do it again because it’s the right thing to do. And we really want to encourage wider participation.”
The January 10 re-election took place following comments from 11 members of the public. Some spoke in favor of the elected list, while others were in favor of trustee Michael Allman as President and Anderson as Vice President.
Parent Marcel Chambers said Viskant’s actions lacked respect and that not commenting publicly sends a signal that decisions have already been made and parents’ concerns are of no interest to the council: “Let’s do better,” Chambers said. “Respect the public. We have the right to be heard.”
Parent Sandy Gero said she understands the board needs to address and correct any alleged violation, but she doesn’t believe the deletion of public comments was a deliberate attempt to silence the public.
“I have high hopes that this board will help bring positive change and take proactive steps to help our community move forward after an extremely contentious year,” Géro said.
During a board discussion on the election of officers, Anderson said that the board “clearly violated” the Brown Act when they did not allow public comment: “I want to admit that a mistake was made. So let’s learn from this so that it doesn’t happen again.”
During the election of officers, the board split in the same way as last month, between Wiskantha and Allman as President and between Anderson and Smith as Vice President, with Anderson and Allman outnumbered in a 3–2 decision.