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Closed Door Meeting Puzzles Crowd Worried About Superintendent Hire

Dozens of people worried the district's board would hire Interim Superintendent Ed Brand packed a meeting Monday night. After public comment, boardmembers met in closed session and would not tell parents, teachers and others what was discussed.

About 75 people carrying whistles, foul flags and signs filled the Board of Trustees chambers Monday evening as members of the public voiced concern that the board may hire Interim Superintendent Ed Brand.

During a meeting held at the same time as the Chargers season opener, Charger and Raider jerseys dotted a crowd that flowed out of board chambers, as people held signs that read "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" and "When Will SUHSD Tackle Corruption?"

The meeting agenda, which was released Friday evening, provided a vague indication that the meeting was about personnel matters which could range from discussing a reclassification or resignation to a transfer or disciplinary action.

On Monday evening board members ignored or declined requests to state why the meeting was held.

Before the board met in private, more than 20 people spoke in two-minute installments. After two hours in closed session, the board announced no action took place in the meeting.

Though the board did not make a decision to hire Brand, the meeting became about gripes with district leadership, a lack of transparency and a need to postpone hiring a superintendent until board shakeups settle.

Board President Pearl Quiñones and Boardmember Arlie Ricasa are , John McCann is part of a recall campaign and Pearl Quiñones and Bertha Lopez are up for reelection in November.

Last week, the Prop O Bond Oversight Committee members voted 5-0 to declare a unanimous vote of no confidence in Brand.

Nick Marinovich is the committee's chair.

"I think we just have not gotten the information out of Dr. Brand that we need to satisfy the education code requirements of our committee," he said.

Bernardo Vasquez was chair of the committee from June 2011 to June 2012 and said in his personal dealing with Brand did not find the sort of transparency to restore trust he promised when he took the job last year.

"As the chairman of the oversight committee for six months, I hold him accountable for lack of transparency, and lack of information that we wanted provided," he said.

Mar Vista Middle School math teacher Chandra Goodnough said not leading in an ethical manner hurts education.

"This may not be about Dr. Brand, but just the ambiguity alone has been hurtful," she said. "I'm married. I have an eight-year-old son. I should be home with them. Instead I find myself policing the very support system that I elect."

Goodnough paused to hand a copy of famous UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden's Advice on Leadership to the board.

"I really want to move forward. I'm not for or against Dr. Brand, but I am against not doing things in a proper manner," she said.

Former SUHSD Boardmember Jaime Mercado said a decision on a new superintendent should wait until "the whole thing is over." Last month Mercado considered running for office against Bertha Lopez.

"Whether it's Ed or anyone else, I'm asking you not to make any long term commitments to anyone. Just make it month to month," she said. "If you want to save some money, as much as I like being retired, I'd be more than glad to serve you as your superintendent for no money. None at all."

Anne Jackson spoke for the first time at a board meeting Monday evening and asked if a search for a new superintendent had started.

"If that has been done, where is it posted and how can we find that information and get some competition so you can get the best candidate possible?" she said.

The school board has not instructed staff to conduct a search for a new superintendent, said district spokesman Manuel Rubio. The job has not been posted publicly.

"It's up to the board," he said. "It's something the board decides upon."

Brand was to serve as the district's Interim Superintendent. The school board extended his contract in June that will be in effect until the end of the year.

New law that went into effect in July governs pay limits to retirees that receive a California State Teachers’ Retirement System pension and may limit Brand's ability to stay with the district.

Brand previously served as the district's superintendent from 1995 to 2005.

IB Patch made requests for comment from Dr. Brand but he said would be unable to speak Tuesday.

Libi Uremovic September 12, 2012 at 12:51 AM
"... "I'm married. I have an eight-year-old son. I should be home with them. Instead I find myself policing the very support system that I elect."..." ...elect and pay to do a job... why is it government officials can't do their job unless confronted with an angry mob?
Sissy Jacks September 12, 2012 at 05:29 AM
truth of the matter is "even after being confronted the board will not do their job". they are telling all of their friends, even today, "this will blow over"! brand was no where to be seen today, yet again, even though he told the community at the last board meeting that he would be working for free during the month of september. is this the kind of individual we want overseeing the education and protection of our children? is this what our board calls integrity? it is imperative that all reading plan on attending the next board meeting - this board is arrogant enough to believe they can do what they want with no regard for the fact that it is our tax dollars that run the district. we need to pack the house, pack the parking lot - a special Thank You to the Patch for this coverage, the union tribune did not see fit to even show up. perhaps that is why so many down here are canceling their subscriptions. brand had a meeting with them you know, about 6 months ago - poor brand felt he was being mistreated in the press and obviously the ut chose to stop reporting factual news.
David Danciu September 13, 2012 at 12:45 AM
After watching the board meeting (channel 10 news) segment in question, it is apparent that the crowd was not laughing in disrespect as Mr. McCann claims. They were laughing at the total incompetence of this board. This is the second time John has tried to play this "disrespect" card. As the evidence accumulates, it becomes clear that big changes are warranted.
Sissy Jacks September 13, 2012 at 02:14 AM
David Danciu: thank you Sir for speaking up for the truth. john mccann, little man who wants to be king is an embarrassment. he has historically acted out in a manner that troublesome that has many identifying the fact that he is not strong enough emotionally to be in politics. it was NOT mccann who caught the fact that pledge of allegiance had not been done, it was the daughter of a vietnam vet.

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