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Thursday, June 7, 2012

School Board Unimpressed With Citizens' Letter

School Board To Citizens: 
Take Your Letter & Stick It Where The Sun Don't Shine

A large cohort of Emeryville citizens has notified the School Board; they want to air their concerns about the School District's plans to abandon Emeryville's Anna Yates Elementary School and the lack of transparency about operating expenses for the soon-to-be-built Center of Community Life.  These citizens have signed a letter to the District and they want some answers.  The School District was given more than a month to prepare; the regularly scheduled June 11th meeting is when the citizens wished to address their School Board.  But more than 60 Emeryville residents, most of them parents with children at Emery Unified School District, was not enough to sway the School Board.  In fact, the School Board scarcely could have been less impressed by the throng:  NO they said, we will not hear the legitimate concerns of these citizens...maybe some other time.
It's the latest in a litany of anti-democratic proclamations and actions issuing from this School Board.  The Schools Superintendent,  Debbra Lindo put it succinctly in an e-mail to the group, "The item for sure cannot be on the June 11th agenda."  Perhaps, she added, this request can be accommodated "before the end of the school year."  The Secret News picked up the story in two installments; first the ignoring of the agenda request by the School Board and then the shutting the door on the citizens' request.

A School District interested in transparency and accommodating legitimate citizens concerns would be keen to listen to a group representing more than 60 such citizens.  Instead, citizens here are getting a 'talk to the hand' brush off, the modus operandi for this District.  We can't help but think this is a tactic meant to take the wind out of the sails of the nascent citizen's group, especially since the District has historically shown open hostility to citizen dissent on the Anna Yates closure and other issues associated with the Center of Community Life.

School Board member Miguel Dwin was adamant to the Tattler, he refused to comment on the snubbing of the citizens by the District but former School Board President Cheryl Webb offered a conjecture, "It seems to me the Board could have made accommodation to hear what these citizens have to say."  She added, "The full discussion [of the closure of Anna Yates and the finances at the Center of Community Life] is long overdue."  We wonder why, precisely, Ms Webb is a former School Board member.

This School District has been railroading the closure of Anna Yates School right from the beginning and the obfuscation about the finances surrounding the Center of Community Life is just that: it's meant to obscure.  We cannot countenance such a public institution with the word "community" right in the title being so shamelessly non-community minded.
In fact, this is what anti-democracy looks like.  This is how a recalcitrant anti-public, public institution behaves.  These are the kinds of tactics, brimming with hubris, that are employed by a cocksure Board with disdain for transparency and an 'our way or the highway' sense of entitlement.
We'd love to see a new culture take over the School District that reverses the one entrenched there now...but we're not going to hold our breath.  It's pretty obvious, they're going to close Anna Yates Elementary School come hell or high water and they're going to continue their obfuscation on the finances of the Center of Community Life no matter what parents and other interested citizens say.


  1. To quote a very knowledgable person in Emeryville education: "this is what you call community engagement."

  2. I suppose after 10 years of planning when no one spoke up, they are pretty annoyed that on the eve of ground being broken on the project, that people want to complain all of the sudden.

    1. FYI- There has been a small but vocal resistance against the abuses piled on by the ECCL and School Board since its inception. Check the Tattler by using the search engine for the last two and a half years worth of reporting on the problems of ECCL. There is nothing "all of the sudden" here. The School Board appears to be annoyed as you put it, that there are dissenters at all. They've show an inability to countenance any dissent at all. It's a cultural thing.