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.
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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.