Brown Act Violations – DA’s Response

A concerned parent sent to CUSD Board members a Brown Act violations notice (3/4/16) and Cease and Desist letter (3/21/16). Copies were provided to Deputy District Attorney, John Chase, who responded. The parent’s communication with Mr. Chase is below.

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Sent: 3/31/2016 11:47 AM

Dear Mr. Chase:

Thank you for your reply to my demand letter sent to CUSD on 3/4/16. While the Board’s response — that any RFP consideration would be made in a pubic forum — was encouraging, it inadequately addressed my concerns.

Following the abrupt decision last year to reconstitute West Valley and the ensuing community turmoil, the Board promised greater transparency and community involvement in decision-making. If the Board had followed-through on its commitment then, I would not be writing to you today. Further, in its response to my demand letter, the Board stated “…it would not appear there is any action for the Board to take at this time.”

Due to the Board’s contradictory language, non-commitment to cure and correct past violations, and its habitual behavior, a Cease and Desist letter was necessary to ensure future Brown Act violations do not occur. Given that you agree that the Board should not have even “discussed the possibility of an RFP without first deciding to do so in an open meeting,” it seems appropriate for the Board to receive a warning from your office at this time. Should the Board not respond to the Cease and Desist letter within 30 days, as it’s required to do so, I may request that your office become involved.

Respectfully,

Teresa Phillips

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Sent: March 29, 2016 9:07 AM

Dear Ms. Phillips:

The school board’s response to your demands appears adequate to address your concerns. I agree that the board (with the district) should not have started the development (or even discussed the possibility) of an RFP without first deciding to do so in an open meeting. No Brown Act exception justifies making this decision behind closed doors. However, the board president has stated that:

“the District will not issue the RFP until it has the opportunity to seek formal Board approval. This formal approval will be sought during an open session of a noticed public meeting where the public will have an opportunity to specifically address the Board on this issue.”

In light of that commitment, there is no reason for the District Attorney’s Office to become involved now. Obviously, there should be no more noticed closed sessions concerning this real property until that public meeting concerning the RFP has been held. Assuming the board keeps its commitment, I believe that your concerns about transparency will be met.

Very truly yours,

John Chase
Deputy District Attorney

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