Tag: board

Lake George board, superintendent violated open meeting law, judge rules

LAKE GEORGE – A ruling from a state Supreme Court justice determined the central school district’s superintendent and board of education violated an open meetings law, but did not give Lake George United for Education what they wanted — their assistant principal back.

Justice Thomas Nolan’s Sept. 30 decision concluded that the breach of the open meetings law doesn’t void or reverse the board’s March 2018 resolution to remove Assistant Principal Cody Conley in favor of hiring a curriculum coordinator.

“The topic that was discussed was one permitted to be discussed in executive session,” Nolan wrote in his decision. “This does not evince, in this court’s judgment, either conscious or malicious or deliberate effort by the Board to violate the law or that the Board has engaged in a documented, persistent pattern of such violations.”

The decision, as first reported by the Post-Star of Glens Falls, the judge declined to award legal fees to LGUE, a community group that filed the Article 78 lawsuit against the school board and Superintendent Lynne Rutnik.

The decision did not satisfy Patricia Dow, the lead petitioner on the LGUE lawsuit.


“While LGUE is disappointed that the Supreme Court was unwilling to impose any consequences on the superintendent and board of education for depriving the public of its statutory right to observed the regular business of the board, we are grateful that the court agreed that the law was violated,” Dow said in a written statement.

Dow said that the board and superintendent misled the public when they announced their executive session was held to discuss an employee’s history, not a position elimination and Nolan agreed.

However, in her statement, Dow also said that the superintendent didn’t consult the district’s professional staff  before deciding to eliminate Conley’s position, showing the superintendent was “unwilling to collaborate with district professionals on how best to deliver critically needed services to our students.”

Rutnik has said the reason for not consulting staff was because the decision “was too difficult to make with a great deal of objectivity.”

Even though Dow didn’t get everything that the suit was meant to achieve, LGUE has won over voters. All of the 2018 board member are gone. One of the last, Tom Seguljic, lost his bid for re-election this year.

The board is now packed with members of LGUE including Jeannine Beiber, who husband was a petitioner on the suit against the district, and Melissa Seale who was an original petitioner. (She dropped her name from the suit at some point.) Also on the board from LGUE are President Tricia Connor Biles, Katie Bruenig, Maryanne MacKenzie and Rosemarie Earl. The only person on the board who is independent of LGUE is Lin King whose term ends in 2022.

Rutnik did not return a Times Union phone call to discuss how the LGUE-led board could affect her employment with the district when her contract expires 2024. She did release a statement, however.

“This decision presents an opportunity for the LGCSD board of education and

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Can new California law on board diversity really change corporate culture?

The summer was filled with scorching images of racial injustice, and the fury that injustice breeds. Now comes the fall, and with it a yearning for the cooling breeze of potent reform.

From all quarters is heard the righteous demand for diversity, equity and inclusion. This week, California purported to respond on the corporate front.

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed into law a dramatic new statute that requires public corporations headquartered in California to put at least one minority on their board of directors by 2021. By 2022, most public boards are required to have at least one-third minority directors. Under this law, minority means either a member of a historically underrepresented racial group, or a gay, lesbian or transgender person.

In some ways, this is a remarkable advance for proponents of diversity in America’s most powerful institutions. Yet in a deeper sense, it is business as usual. Or worse, it is the co-option of the impulse to racial justice by prevailing systems of power and privilege.

What is diversity for?

Corporate law in the United States requires corporate directors to use their powers to pursue profits for shareholders. Profits may not be sacrificed in the interests of workers, consumers, communities or patriotic conscience.

“Cakes and ales,” as an old case puts it, are permitted, but only such as are necessary to make money for shareholders. This is the rule today, whether the issue is corporate diversity, coronavirus-themed advertising or any policy that purports to be socially responsible. In fact, American corporations routinely lay off thousands of workers, destroy local communities and ignore the national interest when profit so commands.

California’s new corporate minority quota comes fast on the heels of the Golden State adopting a gender quota for corporate boards in 2018. When that reform was passed, many scholars doubted the constitutional viability of the command. The Constitution requires “equal protection” under the law, and jurists usually hold that strict hiring quotas violate this standard. Yet only recently have a few cases begun to percolate that challenge the corporate gender quota. Most firms have complied with the new strictures, eagerly identifying women who will further the faithful pursuit of corporate profits.

Proponents of corporate diversity quotas believe that more women directors will improve corporate sensitivity to the needs of employees’ families and children. They hope minority directors will curb corporate abuses that harm poor and disadvantaged communities. They may be right. But if they are right, this will happen only through informal, unspoken compromises at the margin, in the shadow of the law that says shareholders are first — rather than being dealt with explicitly in the boardroom, in the corporate conscience, and in the most important decisions, where shareholders alone are served.

Without reform of our foundational corporate governance law, California’s diversity statutes represent (brace yourself) capitalism’s commodification of diversity, equity and inclusion, and a capture of gender and racial justice impulses in the service of the shareholding class, rather than genuine reform.

Progressives who want corporations to

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How diverse if California government, from school board up?

Sacramento City Councilman Eric Guerra talks on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, at his Tahoe Park home, about the struggles faced by Latino political candidates. “The importance of having a diverse electorate and even encouraging immigrants who become naturalized to run for office is that you bring a new perspective into our government,” he said.

Sacramento City Councilman Eric Guerra talks on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, at his Tahoe Park home, about the struggles faced by Latino political candidates. “The importance of having a diverse electorate and even encouraging immigrants who become naturalized to run for office is that you bring a new perspective into our government,” he said.

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Happy Monday! We’ll find out today whether President Donald Trump really can be discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. In the meantime, where do you stand on Democratic candidate’s Joe Biden’s ads? Too soon to go negative? Or too close to Election Day to let up?

FIRST UP: Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to make a “special announcement” today at his regular Monday press conference, according to a press release from his office Sunday evening. We’ll be covering it here at SacBee.com.

TWO LAWS THAT CHANGED WHO HOLDS POWER IN CALIFORNIA

We have a special report today by The Sacramento Bee’s Kim Bojórquez looking at who holds power in California government, from the school board to the Governor’s Office. Her project, supported by the Solutions Journalism Network, takes a deep look at how two changes in state law empowered less-experienced and minority candidates to run for office.

You can join Kim Tuesday for a virtual panel we’re hosting on diversity in elected government and what it means for voting. She’ll be joined by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, GOP political consultant Luis Alvarado, Laura Gómez of UCLA Law, Mindy Romero of the Center for Inclusive Democracy, civil rights attorney Robert Rubin and The Bee’s Marcos Breton. Here are the details.

Now here’s a preview of Kim’s report. The full piece is online here.

Deborah Ortiz felt like an underdog when she ran for a seat on the Sacramento City Council in 1993. She was the only Latina in a field of six vying for the seat opened by Joe Serna Jr., who’d just won a race for mayor.

Ortiz didn’t get support from prominent Democratic leaders or influential developers in the city, who helped fund most local races. Most were convinced city council candidate Jean Shaw-Conelly, the wife of former Assemblyman Lloyd Connelly, would win the race, she said.

“There was always a candidate they endorsed other than me,” Ortiz said.

But Ortiz came out ahead anyway, becoming the first Latina and woman of color to be elected to the city council.

Nearly three decades later, the landscape for Latino candidates is very different. Latino lawmakers represent 27 seats in the Legislature, making up about a fifth of its 120 officeholders. That’s up from six in 1990.

They’ve made gains in local offices, too, especially on school boards. A Sacramento Bee analysis shows the county’s elected school boards are increasingly diverse, with Latino trustees accounting for 22% of seats and Blacks holding 11% of seats. Those numbers are proportional to the county’s population.

Those achievements were no accident.

They followed two major

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Grand Ledge school board violated the law during June meeting

CLOSE

GRAND LEDGE – A man is suing Grand Ledge Public Schools and its Board of Education, claiming officials intentionally violated the Open Meetings Act during a special board meeting in June held over Zoom.

The lawsuit, filed in Eaton County Circuit Court in August by Mike Hoskins, names the school district, the board and its seven members.

A screen shot of the June 5 Grand Ledge Public Schools Board of Education meeting, broadcast over Zoom. A lawsuit filed in Eaton County Circuit Court claims board members violated the Open Meetings Act during the meeting. (Photo: Rachel Greco/Lansing State Journal)

Hoskin’s lawsuit claims the board went into an illegal closed session at its June 5 meeting. The meeting was held over Zoom in the wake of comments Brian Metcalf, the school district’s former superintendent, made on Facebook about the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer in May. Metcalf’s comments placed blame on Floyd for his own killing, at least in part.

Board members listened to more than seven hours of public comment during the meeting, attended virtually by approximately 600 participants, before voting to place Metcalf on paid administrative leave. He was fired Sept. 21 at a due process hearing.

In its response to the lawsuit earlier this month, the school district denied the illegal closed session occurred.

Hoskins, who lives in Grand Ledge, declined to comment Monday when reached by phone.

“I think the suit speaks for itself,” he said.

Eric Delaporte, his attorney, also represents Metcalf, who filed a lawsuit against the school district earlier this month. Delaporte said the Board of Education has been “conducting significant public business through the use of text messages and email outside of a public meeting.”

“The Grand Ledge community should be aware of what their public officials are hiding,” he said.

Timothy Mullins, an attorney representing the school district and the school board, said school officials did nothing wrong.

“What the board did was entirely appropriate,” he said.

Lawsuit claims closed session was illegal

Hoskins’ lawsuit claims after attempts were made to “Zoom bomb” the June 5 Board of Education meeting that afternoon school officials “…ordered the school’s technology liaison to disconnect the public from the public meeting…” 

Hoskins had been waiting to address the board, according to the lawsuit.

“Disconnecting the public from the Zoom meeting prevented the public (and plaintiff) from participating in accordance with the Act and effectively closed the public meeting,” it reads.

Hoskins attempted to reconnect to the meeting but couldn’t, according to his lawsuit.

“Despite having blocked the public from viewing or participating in the meeting, defendants began to discuss skipping the remainder of public comment and going straight to a close session of the meeting,” according to the lawsuit.

Despite being “warned” that going into closed session “outside the public’s view” would violate the Open Meetings Act the board did anyway, the lawsuit states, returning to announce placing Metcalf on leave “…all without

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