Teachers Sue District to Rescind Layoffs, Massive Brown Act Violations
|The Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) sued the Sacramento City Unified School District, including Superintendent Jorge Aguilar and School Board President Jessie Ryan and other school board for having unlawfully “engaged in discussions regarding general budgetary matters in closed sessions meeting in February and March 2019 and then adopted resolutions for layoffs that necessarily relied upon the underlying illegal budget discussion.” You can view the document here.
The action follows a series of an unprecedented number special, closed session meetings called by School Board President Jessie Ryan and Superintendent Jorge Aguilar in January and February 2019, which preceded actions taken in regular, open school board meetings with little discussion and virtually no debate.
Among those unlawful actions include:
Passing resolutions at the February 21, 2019 school board meeting where the board unanimously approved the termination of more than 150 district educators. At that meeting, only 3 of 7 school board members asked a total of 7 questions following a presentation from District staff and public comment in a “discussion” that lasted approximately seven (7) minutes.
Reading and approving a 5-page, 38-paragraph, single spaced March 7th resolution that set forth the School Board’s defense of retaining administrators and its highly criticized vacation buyout for top administrators allegedly drafted by anonymous District staff (according to District representatives) without change, amendment, or question by school board members. The District further claims that the school board members were only presented the document for the first time during the meeting where they unanimously approved it at exactly the same time it was presented to the public. You can view the resolution here.
The legal action–a petition for a writ of mandate filed in Sacramento Superior Court–seeks a determination that the School Board’s action related to the layoff of teachers violated the Brown Act and should thereby declared null and void. The writ also seeks an order that the School Board conduct future budget discussions in open meetings as required by the Brown Act and that closed session meetings are tape recorded to ensure that future violations do not take place.
“Making a decision to deprive students of educators in their classroom while protecting administrators certainly deserves more than 7 minutes of public discussion,” said Nikki Milevsky, a school psychologist, parent of two students in the District and First Vice-President of SCTA. “For a district mired with fiscal mismanagement and concerns about conflicts of interest among top administrators, to think that School Board President Jessie Ryan would add holding unlawful, clandestine meetings into that mix is unconscionable.”
“If the District is to be believed, the school board is making huge decisions that will impact the lives of our students with virtually no discussion and without any debate,” Milevsky continued. “The more plausible explanation, which we believe we will prove in court, asserts that the President Ryan and Superintendent Aguilar with approval of the school board are making unlawful decisions behind closed doors and away from much needed public scrutiny.”