Teacher claims Palmdale school board violated Brown Act

By Calvin Robinson, Palmdale resident and 5th Grade Teacher, Palmdale School District

I had been attending several [Palmdale School District] Board meetings, when I realized that there was debate on almost no decisions, even the most controversial ones.

The board had appeared to be involved in coordinated scare tactics to influence negotiations with its employees, the Palmdale School District teachers.  This, of course, would be a violation of the Open Meeting Law (or Brown Act), which requires public officials serve citizens by deliberating in public. Deliberating in secret would be a violation of trust and a violation of the law.   But I had no proof, since I could not prove that they were not deliberating in secret.

I could not “prove a negative.”  That is, until July 16, 2013.

At a meeting of the Palmdale School Board on July 16, 2013, Jeff Ferrin, Palmdale School District Board Member, arrogantly admitted to the board’s having secretly met in closed session “for seven months.”  I happened to be videotaping his exchange with Hugo Estrada, Palmdale Elementary Teachers’ Association president.   When Mr. Estrada tried to pursue the issue, Sandy Corrales, board president, quickly cut him off.   This prevented the revealing of further evidence.   I posted the admission on YouTube [see video above].

I sent the link to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, via their webpage.   I received an e-mail reply, saying merely that the matter would be “forwarded to the appropriate personnel.”

I would think that an investigation would involve interviews with me, Mr. Estrada, Mr. Ferrin, Ms. Corrales, and the other board members, at a minimum.  But, to date, I have heard nothing.  I see no excuse for the District Attorney’s failure to enforce the laws that ensure the sanctity of our democracy.  It’s an outrage.

Now, there are two matters that need to be investigated: The Palmdale School Board’s flouting of the laws that govern it and the District Attorney’s failure to enforce the law.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The AV Times.

Email letters@theavtimes.com to submit a story to Your Issues | Your News.

Editor’s Note: The AV Times will be contacting members of the Palmdale School District Board of Trustees to get the other side of this story. We will update the story with additional information as it becomes available.


  22 comments for “Teacher claims Palmdale school board violated Brown Act

  1. Quigley
    September 7, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Awwww M, I wasn’t gonna go there and burst Stephanie’s bubble! I guess he isn’t a saint afterall?!

  2. Maria paesano
    September 7, 2013 at 2:27 am

    Oh by the way has anyone noticed how the only things that most schools offer now are in the area of business, law enforcement, psychology or counseling,medical technology, hotel or food management or the military . Take a look at TITLE I funding ( rehab act) , workforce investment act , programs like VITA We ( our children ) are now bei g TOLD what they WILL take where they will work etc. ( funding comes under AND IS used in conjunction with law enforcement/ jails/ juvenile programs , mental health/ hospitals, technology , housing, ” special” schools, research, etc)

  3. Maria paesano
    September 7, 2013 at 2:05 am

    First of all Mr. Robinson id like to thank you for caring enough about this obvious ” violation” to post it on this forum. With everything that has been going within our education system, I’m sure you had to know you would be ridiculed and discredited by most. The lack of response by any other teachers should, I would think, be questioned as well ( maybe proof that the ” scare tactics” are working ?). The situation with our education system ( like so many others) is so far gone now that I’m not sure it can/ or will ever be restored to anything we can cherish or be proud of ever again. Let me tell you why. Like so many other things in this world, education has become nothing more than ” big business” . A means to exploit and control people in order to gain money and power. What makes this CRIME one of the most deplorable of all is that it has knowingly and intentionally set out to destroy the innocence and ultimate happiness and well- being of OUR CHILDREN through coersion, manipulation , exploitation and lies. There is a reason why meetings are held ” in secret” why there are NEVER any investigations into any wrongdoing by those running this ” business”. Exposing the real facts, purpose or people involved would mean ( I would hope) criminal prosecution and loss of positions of thousands ( even millions) of people. What I have seen and experienced in the past ten years as both a student and teacher has been nothing short of disgusting, horrifying and inexcusable to say the least. I wanted to become a teacher because as a student, I loved school, sharing, interacting, exploring, learning, playing, understanding and I wanted to be able to pass this knowledge/ understanding / respect on to others. In 2003 I began teaching for the eastside school district ( my alma Mauter) . While the scholar system I knew had changed a bit, it wasn’t until around 2005 that I realized things had gone very wrong. First, there was a huge inpouring of new ” displaced” students that could not be handled by the number of classrooms or teachers available. Classrooms were severely overcrowded and were absolutely out of control. These students had no respect for education, other students or themselves. Most “good students ” were harassed and threatened every day to the point that they were afraid to walk on campus, go to the bathroom, and especially walk home. They were told they should be ” tollerant” of others different from them. Bad students were rewarded good students were punished. ( This ” terrorizing” of our children was done PRPOSEFULLY so children would not want to go to school- opening of all these charter schools where they make their own curriculum agendas )Oh and assemblies consisted of lectures on why its ok to be gay or bisexual of transgender ( we are talking grammer school and middle school students here!!!!) If any of these issues were brought before the board they were ignored or like you said were told they were ” private ” issues to be discussed in ” private” . Most parents were not even informed theses things were going on with their children. Also many social service workers were brought in to talk to most students whose parents had spoke out at any of the meetings to get ” information” about how their parents displayed anger or used drugs, etc. ( this is the absolute truth ) . Veteran Teachers were expected to go back and take classes to learn ” new techniques” as they were then blamed for the problems that were occurring. Many experienced good teachers were discredited ; many more chose to leave or were fired if they spoke out or questioned the ” new program” . (No one at the university level, the district level, city, state, assemblyman, court NO ONE would ever help with any inquiry or investigation what so ever. Oh you were told they were going to or that it was ” being sent to right dept” or whatever but that was just to appease you for long enough to either get you to give up or long enough to come up with ways to discredit you and ruin your reputation.) Quite a few even died from ” unknown causes” . Once the ” human resource” department came into play ( humans are now “resources” to be used, exploited) the norm was to stop any disputes to ensure this kind of tactic/ behavior continues and is still going on nowadays is not just going at elementary , jr high or high school level but universities as well. It’s all about money, all about who gets that money or funding and USING/ EXOITING children to get it. There is sooo much more I could say, I mean ALOT MORE but I guess I better stop for now…. Anyone out there with similar stories or information? More to come……

    • Melanie T
      September 11, 2013 at 12:29 pm

      “Unknown causes?” What does that mean exactly? The school district is the new CIA? Wow…and yet another lucid PETA member!

  4. Melanie T
    September 4, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Nancy P., you need to look at the definition of a “whistleblower” as defined by the federal government. Under those conditions, inflamatory and defamatory speech is never protected, and in looking at the video that’s exactly what it seems is Mr. Robinson’s intent. I agree with Mr. Mussins that Robinson has at the very least exposed himself to civil litigation for such an obvious attempt to defame, and I am surprised that this news organization didn’t know better than to help him publish such nonsense. They certainly didn’t do him any favors.

    • Nancy P
      September 4, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      Melanie T., I don’t NEED to do anything of the sort. I am entitled to my opinion as you are yours. Exposing Brown Act violations or asking for an investigation shouldn’t be a big deal if nothing illegal was done.

      • Melanie T
        September 5, 2013 at 8:14 am

        You are of course correct Ms. P, you do not NEED to do anything including being educated with regard to the subjects you address. You don’t NEED to take the time to read the definition of “whistleblower” you can just use the word in any way you like. You don’t even need to be correct in your assumptions…who cares if you carelessly adreess things you know nothing about. You don’t NEED to be conscientious. After all, this is America, where the philosophy of entitlement is alive and kicking and we don’t NEED to be anything.

        And Mr. Letlow, I am not “forcing” you to do anything of the kind. The language in the video is not an issue. The verbage overwitten “on” the video is inflamatory, and the comments in Mr. Robinson’s commentary here are nothing short of unfounded editorializing. That’s what we used to refer to as shameful yellow journalism. And for the record, thre were no veiled threats of litigation, since I have nothing to litigate Mr. Robinson for. Yes, public officials are open to criticism as is everyone else it seems, but just because they are public officials does not mean they relinquish those same constitutional protections and remedies you and I enjoy.

        • Nancy P
          September 5, 2013 at 9:10 am

          Thanks for clearing that up.
          You seem to know a lot about the word “need”. Perhaps your own entitlement issues. I am not the enemy here.
          I am glad that people are allowed to expose what they feel are violations and they all need to be investigated. Meantime, the “whistleblower” and his supported, get blasted by “know it alls” like you.
          Peace out. Have a day.

          • Melanie T
            September 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm

            Not a “know it all” at all, I just know how to use Google.

            Peace out…have a life.

    • Letlow
      September 4, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      I admit, I don’t know much about this whole issue and up until now I have mostly been on the side of the school board. But you, Melanie T, are forcing me to rethink my position. Absolutely nothing in that video or in what Mr. Robinson wrote is inflammatory or defamatory. Shame on you for YOUR accusation! Mr. Robinson appears to be a working man attempting to expose what he believes is some sort of corruption by his superiors. Whether or not the school board violated the brown act is up for debate because it is unclear from the video what was being debated in closed session for 7 months. That is an issue for the DA. But for you to come on here with veiled empty threats of civil litigation and attempt to scare Mr. Robinson is the lowest of the low! Perhaps that’s what Mr. Robinson was referring to when he referenced scare tactics in letter. Public officials are open to criticism, including these school board members. End of story!

      • Randy H
        September 5, 2013 at 1:31 pm

        Same line you used in the salary rescision story Mr. Letlow…”I agree with you brother!! I must confess, at first I was a little skeptical because I thought the teachers were being whiny. But after loosely watching this thing play out, something else is afoot. The district is shady and the teachers and students are paying the price! Having no children in the school system…”

        Many of us read every article and most of the posts here, so maybe you should change your sales pitch, your PETA roots are staring to show…and the something smells fishy…

        • Letlow
          September 5, 2013 at 1:57 pm

          LOL!! I actual did say that! You have busted me as a flip flopper with no real dog in this race. Sometimes I think the teachers are being whiny and demanding of an overburdened school board, and then other times I think the school board is being self-serving, arrogant and using scare tactics on teachers who speak out, like Mr. Robinson. Perhaps, having no children in the school district and nothing to do with this issue, I should just keep my big mouth shut!! LOL!

  5. Bubba
    September 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    After some research, if the PSD school board violated the Brown Act, they broke the law and it is a misdemeanor. Here is a brief summary of the law from the Ventura County Grand Jury 2003-2004:
    Brown Act Observance at School Board Meetings
    1. Public may comment on agenda items before or during consideration by board.
    2. Time must be set aside for public to comment on any other matter under the board’s jurisdiction.
    3. Meeting facilities accessible to disabled persons.
    4. Public may obtain a copy (at cost) of an existing recording made available by board.
    5. Public may listen/view an original tape made by board.
    6 All votes must be cast in public: not secret ballots.
    7. At an open meeting following a closed session, the body must report on final action taken in the closed session. (Public may receive copies of contracts, settlements, etc.)
    8. Public may not be asked to register or identify themselves to attend public meetings.
    9. Materials provided to a majority of a body not exempt from disclosure must be provided, upon request, to members of the public without delay.
    10. Agenda containing a brief description of each matter to be considered or discussed must be posted at least 72 hours prior to meeting.
    11. Twenty-four hour notice must be provided to members of legislative body and media outlets including brief description of matters to be considered or discussed.
    12. All items to be considered in closed session must be described in the notice or agenda for the meeting.

  6. Green is a coverup
    September 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Is this news? This Mr. Robinson does not teach History I hope? Must be a slow news day.

    • john Howard
      September 3, 2013 at 10:21 am

      “Green is a coverup” if you are not going to use your real name when posting online then try to use a different name each time so that it’s not so obvious that you are not only a member of the Palmdale School Board, but the “Palmdale First” campaign.
      Why did you get fired by Steve Fox?

      Brown Act violations need to really be egregious and intentional for them to be pursued by the courts. Going around trying to execute people over technical or even implied Brown Act violations is truly a waste of time. If the community feels it necessary to remove Green is a coverup from the board then do it by the electoral process and through your individual passion for the position, not by a technicality that you too may fall victim to during your time on the board if elected.

  7. mike
    September 1, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Im not sure i understand. the board cant talk about negotiations in closed session? the video is hard to hear and the article didnt clarify the issueto me. plus, this is a misdemeanor if it is a crime and the kind of technical issue it presents seems like it would not be a case any da would be attracted to. maybe the labor board, but i think the labor board is really ineffectual.

    • AVGirl
      September 2, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      Actually yes you are right, they can’t meet and negotiate in private in most cases under the Brown Act. That is known as a serial meeting and is prohibited.

      • k
        September 3, 2013 at 7:25 am

        Yet ANOTHER example of Palmdale School District Board of Education BEHAVING as if they are ABOVE THE LAW!

        • Dan Mussins
          September 4, 2013 at 8:32 am

          It appears that Mr. Robinson is little more than a disgruntled PSD employee with a hobby that includes sub standard video taping, amateur photography, and taking comments out of context. He also seems to think himself a psychic with some sort of chrystal ball for hearing conversations that don’t exist, as well as an attorney giving advice to the “real” law enforcement people.

          Seems to me that he has some personal bone to pick with his employer that has nothing to do with his ramblings above. Making untrue allegations just to cause trouble for his boses may find him in a civil court defending his tactics, and I’m pretty sure his union isn’t goin to pony up the cash for his defense.

          • Nancy P
            September 4, 2013 at 8:55 am

            Dan Mussins, Yours is a typical response to a whistleblower.

          • Sayid Aaqil
            September 4, 2013 at 11:49 am

            Sadly I believe if any allegation is investigated Mr. Robinson’s relationship to his employer will become part of that investigation as well. If he has had any troubles and has cast agrievances against his job or his associates a good investigator will determine this. Falsely reporting a crime is a crime, is it not?

      • Dan Mussins
        September 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm

        You sound like a very smart attorney, are you available for a libel lawsuit? I know some people that may want to retain you…

Comments are closed.