(Thousand Oaks, Ca) With its usual start time at 6pm, the CVUSD board meeting brought in students from each of the district high schools who provided updates on their respective school’s year so far. Nick Capobianco, of Century Academy, shared that they had just completed their Back to School night and the many upcoming events on schedule this year.
Joe Cardenas, of Conejo Valley High School, provided an update that his school didn’t start until September 12 and they would be having a blood drive on November 9 and outdoor school on November 14. He also mentioned there would be ice breakers every Wednesday at Conejo Valley high School to help students get to know each other better.
Audrey Washington, of Newbury Park High School, shared that her school welcomed 17 new staff and that the League of Women Voters would be on campus registering people to vote.
Haley Dulgrin, of Thousand Oaks High School, mentioned that the students appreciated receiving their new air conditioning system, the school library remodel, and their new chrome books. Dulgrin also mentioned a college fair on September 24.
The first speaker was Bill Gorback who addressed the district bullying policy. Gorback discussed the agenda item on cyberbullying and stated his belief that there should be more emphasis placed on emotional well being of students. He suggested adding more counselors for emotional support so that there could be more focus on proactively implementing LCAP 4.
Leanne Holland, of Thrive Conejo, stated that on Thursday, September 27 at 5:30pm at CLU their organization would host a debate for school board candidates. She also added that she was happy the special education district advisory council was added back.
One speaker transferred their spot to another. The recipient of the time, speaker Sandee (not be confused with CVUSD Trustee Sandee Everett), thanked the board for passing the core literature policy and then addressed Dr. Connolly with regard to a political letter sent by Connolly a few days prior. Speaker Sandee stated she was not the original recipient of Connolly’s letter but received a copy of it from multiple people that forwarded it to her. One section of the letter read “The quality education offered in the district won’t continue if new board members aren’t elected who can break the grip of the existing majority.” The speaker continued by stating, “Annotation is NOT a book ban, nor is it extremism as some have said. I agree with the core lit policy and feel it is fair. You should all read it. down load it and read it. It is NOT extremism, nor is it Sandee Everett’s religious values! What is wrong with knowing ahead of time if a book has sexual content? It’s like a movie rating. I was going to read excerpts from Bluest eye which I didn’t read and Snow Falling on Cedars, which I did read. These 2 books are so sexually graphic that I can’t even read to a room of adults.”
The next speaker, Karen Meyer, read comments on behalf of someone else. Meyer addressed district changes to policy and schedules of classified employees. Her comments included the conclusion that productivity is an issue because of the manner in which time is no longer flexible for taking portion of lunch breaks to leave early for appointments and other personal commitments. The new policy forces that a person that leave early use personal time or lose the time. She stated that inflexibility is unproductive and several district employees feel this way.
Ron Meyer came to the podium next to address the change in work time for classified employees. He stated that these policy changes had ramifications to custodial staff yet did not show up on the district agenda. They were implemented without board approval. Mr. Meyer stated that according to AB 1611 (which amends a section to 3542.3), “Government shall provide prior written notice.” Meyer stated the CSEA had not been given notice and allowed mandatory negotiations related to such a policy change. This is in violation of the law.
The next speaker was Nikki Jones who provided handouts to board members. Jones thanked Dunn, Anderson, and Everett for voting for the core literature policy and shared her position that because Connolly did not have the votes on the book policy, she was now turning to attacks against fellow board members. “Betsy, your behavior reminded me of a young child who didn’t get the toy they wanted. They throw a temper tantrum! Your temper tantrum reared its head as an email that was sent to many parents within the CVUSD. They were quite alarmed to read the subject line in bold, “I’m worried that the current Conejo School board majority is harming the CVUSD.” There were words used such as reckless, painful, damaging, and heartbreaking. Betsy, do I need to remind you that the board has voted unanimously on all but 2 items? That doesn’t really align with the rambling of your email. You go onto say things like “this isn’t a “political divide” in the board; it’s about poor governance and out of control ego’s.” I think you might be slightly confused over who’s ego needs checking. I watched you as I spoke at the last board meeting with your nose in the air, and the arrogance you put off. To boldly endorse school board members through an email list, potentially breaking another of the Fair Political Practices Commission guidelines and laws. The photo I mentioned last meeting was taken at NPHS, with minor students. I’m curious if their parents gave consent? My husband and I would be livid if our children’s faces were politicized by someone like you. I’ve seen you condemn associates on the board, when you should have private conversations about disagreements. You were such a champion to have Mike Dunn censured for what you perceived as inappropriate; it’s time for you to accept a censure yourself. You are not above the law, you are an elected official.”
The next speaker addressed a misunderstanding communicated earlier in the meeting which resulted in an outburst from the audience.
Dr. Amy Chen, CVUSD school board candidate, expressed that earlier that there was a misunderstanding communicated by Conejo Council PTA President, Rocky Capobianco. Chen stated that Capobianco’s certified letters were never received by her and so she was not able to RSVP by September 1. In an abrupt response from his chair, Capobianco shouted, “it was sent to you!” Chen replied, “Check with the post office because I didn’t get it and I haven’t signed anything,” to which Capobianco waved his hand.
Chen then turned back towards the CVUSD board and stated she was interested in participating and if he were to send her the letter, she would be happy to come. Chen then went on to address agenda items, specifically the $44M consent agenda. Chen stated that “Just because the board has “always done it this way does not mean the Board should continue this way” referring to comments from Trustee Pat Phelps at the previous meeting when she questioned Everett’s interest in going through each line item on the consent agenda list. Chen then stated that a district with a $185 million budget and $197 million bond deserves a board that will ask more questions because decreasing enrollment threatens schools and the ability for the District to keep neighborhood schools open.
The final speaker was Leslie Kay, who also addressed the letter sent by Dr. Connolly and her comments at the August board meeting about divisiveness on the board and in the community.
“I would like to express my disappointment with Dr. Connelly for her actions. Dr. Connelly, your speech last board meeting came across as self-righteous, condescending and pompous. It’s beyond me how you can publicly condemn other board members for what you perceive as poor behavior, and in that same speech completely absolve yourself of any poor behavior. From what I have observed, you have been a very active participant, if not the main cause, of the division of the CVUSD community. As if that wasn’t enough, you recently sent out an email on August 29 to many voters in the community labeling the board majority as reckless and “having out of control egos” and you used fear mongering techniques to encourage voters to “break the grip”, all the while never acknowledging your own bad behavior. Should I remind you of the despicable way you treated the Conti’s and in particular, Gianna Conti? I was horrified that you treated a victim of sexual harassment in such a manner and in my opinion protected the perpetrator.”
Comments by the Board
Other Agenda Items
Gann Appropriation Limit
Information shared with the public and the Board including the following slides.
Hayek warns that reserves will become $0 on present trajectory
Hayek also advised the Board to, “Attempt to do budget without the reserve.”
The remainder of the meeting was a review of bylaws changes and then an adjournment right after many items were shifted off for another day.
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