Possible Brown Act Violation by SSFUSD in Board Member Appointments

South San Francisco, CA              February 10, 2016sunbmp

The SSFUSD Board of Trustees is set to swear in two new appointed members tomorrow evening; John Baker who would be completing Maurice Goodman’s term as Goodman was elected to SMC Community College District, and Daina Lujan to cover Rick Oschenshirt’s term as he passed away in December. There is a question regarding violation of the Brown Act on these appointments made by the current 3 member Board of Trustees.

The Board making these decisions consist of Judy Bush who has been serving on the School Board since 2011 and two relatively new comers, Rosa Acosta and Patrick Lucy, who were elected in November 2014, Lucy had been appointed to the board in 2013. {EDIT} The concern is deepened when the City is looking to build work force housing which might include surplus school property; Lujan currently serves on the SSF Planning Commission where she was appointed by Council Members in January 2015, and Acosta works in the City Manager’s office as the Community Liaison, although her title had been Management Analyst during the election.

The SSFUSD has been plagued with problems the past few years and had seem to turn a corner with promises of transparency as they moved forward with a new Superintendent and re-setting course on the horrific problems associated with tax payers $162M Measure J  (CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO)

The immediate concern is the question of legality in the manner of appointments that are set to take place tomorrow evening, specifically filling Oschenhirt’s term, as we can see from the information we received below.

Did the South San Francisco Unified School District follow proper procedure when they made two provisional appointments to the Board of Trustees?

Attached below is the SSFUSD agenda for the November 19, 2015. At this meeting the Board of Trustees placed on the agenda (Action Item 1.a.). The Board of Trustees took action to approve the provisional appointment process, to fill a vacancy on the Board of Trustees, to comply with the Brown Act noticing and full disclosure requirements. The memorandum from Superintendent Shawnterra Moore to the Board of Trustees specifically indicated that they will be appointing “a new member” to fill the vacancy, which was approved by the Board of Trustees.
On December 6, 2015 Trustee Rick Ochsenhirt passed away. Following this date the SSFUSD failed to place on any subsequent Agenda and took no action to approve a provisional appointment to fill the vacancy that was created when Trustee Ochsenhirt passed away.

 

Although the SSFUSD is allowed to make a provisional appointments to the Board of Trustees, they must also follow the Brown Act to notify and make full disclosure of their intent to the public. The District failed to properly notify the public as they did not place the second vacancy on an agenda and did not take action to fill the vacancy that was created when Trustee Ochsenhirt passed away.

 

The SSFUSD should have notified the public that they were planning to fill both vacancies by placing the second vacancy on an agenda after December 6, 2015. This was necessary to inform the public and to vote on the second provisional appointment as an action item. The SSFUSD has tried to piggy back a decision that was made on November 19, 2015, to include something that occurred on December 6, 2015. As a result, the SSFUSD skipped the public noticing requirement for the second vacancy in violation of the Brown Act.

 

The result is that there was improper notice to the public as the appointment to replace Rick Ochsenhirt, was not placed on an agenda, was not discussed in a public meeting and was not voted upon by the SSFUSD. No action was taken to make a second provisional appointment. This may have also excluded other qualified candidates from applying for the provisional appointment, if they were unaware that there were two open positions instead of one.

SSFUSD AGENDA 19 NOV 2016-page-001 SSFUSD AGENDA 19 NOV 2016-page-002 SSFUSD AGENDA 19 NOV 2016-page-003 SSFUSD AGENDA 19 NOV 2016-page-004 SSFUSD AGENDA 19 NOV 2016-page-005 SSFUSD AGENDA 19 NOV 2016-page-006

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 comments for “Possible Brown Act Violation by SSFUSD in Board Member Appointments

  1. Peggy Deras
    February 10, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    Good reporting Editor.

    I also note an item for approval involving USS CAL Builders doing Time and Materials work at the Buri Buri Elementary site. That is insane!

    I thought we had severed our relationship with USS CAL Builders and were pursuing legal action.

    Question: Is the District in a situation where no other contractor will bid on our work?

    • John Baker
      February 11, 2016 at 7:42 am

      Hi Peggy,

      The agenda posted above is from November — before the decision to sever ties with USS Cal.

  2. February 10, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    First, offering a brief correction, it’s “Lujan” and “Acosta.”

    Attendance at the Dec. 10 meeting or a reading of the minutes from that meeting would’ve cleared up the writer’s legal question in an instant. From page 7 of the provisional minutes (available online as part of the Feb. 11 packet), discussing Item M(g) (the then-upcoming Jan. 11 meeting): Shawnterra Moore is quoted, “During this meeting the Board will interview qualified candidates for the provisional appointments to fill Trustee Goodman’s and Trustee Ochsenhirt’s seats on the Board until the November 2016 election.” Not trusting the minutes? Luckily the meeting is also on video — the public announcement that the interviews would be for both seats is at the 1:01.35 mark on the archived video on the City of SSF’s website.

    IIRC, the District’s website was also updated at or about the same time as the Dec. 10 meeting.

    If that wasn’t public notice enough, the process was outlined on the Jan. 11 agenda (page 2): “Superintendent Shawnterra Moore will review the process whereby the Trustees will interview qualified candidates to fill vacancies on the Board.” VacancieS, with a “s.” The staff report also clarifies that the interviews are for both seats.

    So, please enlighten me on the disconnect. The process, noting that interviews would be for both spots, was publicly outlined well before applications were due. The fact that the interviews were for both seats was agendized prior to the Jan. 11 meeting. Therefore, the statement that, “Following this date the SSFUSD failed to place on any subsequent Agenda and took no action to approve a provisional appointment to fill the vacancy that was created when Trustee Ochsenhirt passed away” is factually incorrect.

    (Disclaimer: I am not yet a member of the Board and am speaking as a private citizen.)

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