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New Sweetwater Meeting Times May Stifle Public Participation, Critics Say

The school district may change its regular meeting time from 3:30 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. Critics say the move could quiet the voice of parents, students and the community at large.

Superintendent Ed Brand has recommended that the Sweetwater Union High School District start its monthly school board meetings as early as 2 p.m., according to the latest meeting agenda.

The school board will decide whether to adopt the superintendent's recommendation at its meeting Monday.

If approved, regular meetings would take place at 3:30 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. Closed-door meetings would begin at 2 p.m. instead 5 p.m.

See a copy of the revised bylaws attached here in PDF form.

Currently four of the five Sweetwater school board members face charges from the San Diego County District Attorney's Office ranging from bribery to perjury for their alleged role in "pay-to-play" politics.

Board members Pearl Quinones, Bertha Lopez, James Cartmill and Arlie Ricasa along with current and former Southwestern College, Sweetwater Union High School District and San Ysidro School District officials are scheduled to appear in court again Wednesday, according to the San Diego Superior Court docket.

Critics say an earlier meeting time will allow the district to conduct business with less public participation since teachers and people with full-time jobs would have to miss meetings. It may also reduce the pool of board member candidates to those without full-time jobs.

See this San Diego Reader story to read more
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The move would allow the district to finish meetings on time without the need to disrupt district business if the board fails to rule on a matter because of an especially long meeting, said Director of the Grants and Communications Department Manuel Rubio.

"One of the things that they're looking at is if you look at over the last year, out of 12 meetings in 2012, the board only finished six," Rubio said.

Under the structure, general public comments would take place at end of meeting, Rubio said.

Libi Uremovic January 28, 2013 at 10:31 PM
'... from 3:30 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. ...' khari - shouldn't this say 'to 3:30 pm.."
Libi Uremovic January 28, 2013 at 10:38 PM
'...Superintendent Ed Brand has recommended that the Sweetwater Union High School District start its monthly school board meetings as early as 2 p.m.,...' we don't actually pay these people to spend their time circumventing the laws... if the parents want the meetings held at a different time then the parents will voice their concerns... ed brand needs to focus on performing his duties instead of finding ways to pillage the taxpayer... if ed brand has nothing to do in the middle of the day then perhaps his position and salary should be reduced to part time...
Ken Stone January 28, 2013 at 10:45 PM
Helix Water Board meetings have begun at 2 p.m. for years—and also have come in for public criticism of inconvenient time. But the "worst" offender may be Grossmont Healthcare District board, which meets at 7:30 a.m. on certain Fridays.
Ed Sorrels January 28, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Any board member that votes for this should be immediately recalled ! Or just recall the whole bunch of crook's. This is just a scheme to quite the voices of those that believe along with the district attorney that these people have violated their oath of office and the law in the "Pay for Play" scheme. If nothing else they should be suspended till their trials find them guilty, Or maybe innocent, Really!
Alex Anguiano January 29, 2013 at 05:55 AM
"Easy there, Tolstoy. Your comment cannot exceed 1500 characters." I had a lot to say; however, I went over the limit. Thank you to all of you that attended the meeting to oppose the agenda item as written. The Board modified the proposal. The modification would not have occurred if the public was not at tonight's meeting. Closed session will start at 4:30 pm and open session will start at 6 pm.
Sissy Jacks January 29, 2013 at 04:32 PM
It is true this community has had enough of Ed Brand. Last night Brand had to reminded to actually look at and listen to the community members who took time out of their lives to show up, stand up and speak up against this move to circumvent the taxpayers. The board listened, perhaps it was the large crowd, or perhaps (fingers crossed) they are beginning to take into consideration that maybe, just maybe, we, the ta paying community mat be right. Side note, you want to talk about dysfunction, questionable spending - there was an item on the agenda regarding cell phones. About 76k worth - when asked by Mr. Anguiano to explain - NOONE, not the CFO, not the operations manager, no one knew what it was for. Funny, Ed Brand oversees the agenda items, yet, he never said a word, not really funny - INCREDULOUS!!!!!

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