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SRVUSD: Resident challenges postponement of in-person learning, alleges Brown Act violation

Superintendent Malloy disputes allegation; board set to respond to charge

The San Ramon Valley school board is set Tuesday to discuss an allegation it violated state public meeting laws after a resident accused the board of skirting the Brown Act by failing to adequately give notice to the community about its plans to cancel the return of in-person learning.

SRVUSD logo.

Superintendent John Malloy denies wrongdoing by the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, but he recommends the Board of Education approve an "unconditional commitment response" to the allegation that agrees not to use the same agenda verbiage in question, while not admitting any violation occurred, in the interest of avoiding potential litigation.

The SRVUSD received a cease-and-desist letter on Dec. 19 from Kathleen DeLaney, who alleged that the board voted days earlier to postpone the return to in-person learning on Jan. 5 without sufficient notice to its constituents, according to the letter.

"On a more personal note, I am sincerely disappointed with the board's underhanded actions," DeLaney said in her letter to the board. "The district has been reassuring parents and students for months that it will proceed with reopening schools on Jan. 5, 2021. Then, without any notice, it reverses this decision. Do you really want this to be your legacy?"

DeLaney further demanded that the board formally rectify the alleged violations by withdrawing its decision to not open schools on Jan. 5.

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She alleges that the district violated the Ralph M. Brown Act by not giving the public adequate notice of the board's vote to postpone the return to in-person learning. The law, named for the Assembly member who authored the bill, addresses public access to government meetings, essentially guaranteeing the public's right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies.

District officials deny the charge, claiming that their actions were legally adequate.

"Item 11.1 of the Dec. 15, 2020, agenda addressed 'San Ramon Valley Unified School District's Path to Reopening Schools," which clearly identified the subject matter," Malloy said in a staff report to the board. "The agenda identified this as an 'action' item, putting the public on notice that action might be taken by the board in relation to re-opening plans."

While the Dec. 15 meeting agenda item did not specifically reference the Jan. 5 reopening date or the postponement of in-person learning, it did broadly state "Pending board discussion, this item may be utilized by the board for any motions and votes related to the re-opening of schools."

"The board acted consistent with this agenda item in voting to postpone the re-opening in light of the ongoing pandemic crisis," Malloy added.

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While the district maintains that its actions were legal, in order to avoid potential litigation costs, Malloy has recommended that without admitting any wrongdoing, the board execute an unconditional commit to DeLaney that would commit to "not repeat any actions alleged to have violated the Brown Act related to the Dec. 15, 2020, board agenda."

As a part of the commitment statement, the board would not use the same agenda description as it did in item 11.1 on Dec. 15.

The SRVUSD had previously been set to return to hybrid in-person learning after months of remote education on Jan.5, however those plans were postponed for the foreseeable future during the board's regular meeting on Dec. 15 due to a surge in the number of coronavirus cases.

"Opening schools is a community effort. We have to do it together. The district can't do it by itself, teachers can't do it by themselves, students and parents can't do it by themselves. It has to be everyone including the community," Board President Susanna Ordway said during the district's meeting on Dec. 15.

The SRVUSD Board of Education's regular meeting is set to be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday (Jan. 12). Interested residents can view the meeting live on the SRVUSD's YouTube channel.

Residents can provide public comment live at meetings by logging in or dialing into the district's Zoom meeting, which will be visible on the district's homepage of their website when the agenda for the meeting is posted.

To comment by video conference, residents will need to click the “Raise Your Hand” button while in the Zoom meeting to request to speak when public comment is being taken. Participants will be unmuted when it is their turn to speak and will be allowed to make a three minute comment.

To comment by phone, residents will be prompted to “Raise Your Hand” by pressing “*9” to request to speak when public comment is being taken.

Learn more about public comment online at www.srvusd.net/virtualpubliccomment.

In other business

* Taking care of some administrative changes to board assignments and leadership over the next year, during Tuesday's meeting the board will also appoint members to serve liaison assignments on the district's various advisory committees and commissions.

* Malloy will also provide an informational update on the district's efforts to eventually return to in-person learning and the state's path forward for re-opening campuses.

* The board is also set to convene for a special closed session held prior to the start of its regular meeting, where district officials will discuss anticipated litigation -- the specifics of which have not yet been released to the public.

That special meeting is set to start at 4:30 p.m.

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SRVUSD: Resident challenges postponement of in-person learning, alleges Brown Act violation

Superintendent Malloy disputes allegation; board set to respond to charge

by / Danville San Ramon

Uploaded: Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 4:48 pm
Updated: Tue, Jan 12, 2021, 4:53 pm

The San Ramon Valley school board is set Tuesday to discuss an allegation it violated state public meeting laws after a resident accused the board of skirting the Brown Act by failing to adequately give notice to the community about its plans to cancel the return of in-person learning.

Superintendent John Malloy denies wrongdoing by the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, but he recommends the Board of Education approve an "unconditional commitment response" to the allegation that agrees not to use the same agenda verbiage in question, while not admitting any violation occurred, in the interest of avoiding potential litigation.

The SRVUSD received a cease-and-desist letter on Dec. 19 from Kathleen DeLaney, who alleged that the board voted days earlier to postpone the return to in-person learning on Jan. 5 without sufficient notice to its constituents, according to the letter.

"On a more personal note, I am sincerely disappointed with the board's underhanded actions," DeLaney said in her letter to the board. "The district has been reassuring parents and students for months that it will proceed with reopening schools on Jan. 5, 2021. Then, without any notice, it reverses this decision. Do you really want this to be your legacy?"

DeLaney further demanded that the board formally rectify the alleged violations by withdrawing its decision to not open schools on Jan. 5.

She alleges that the district violated the Ralph M. Brown Act by not giving the public adequate notice of the board's vote to postpone the return to in-person learning. The law, named for the Assembly member who authored the bill, addresses public access to government meetings, essentially guaranteeing the public's right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies.

District officials deny the charge, claiming that their actions were legally adequate.

"Item 11.1 of the Dec. 15, 2020, agenda addressed 'San Ramon Valley Unified School District's Path to Reopening Schools," which clearly identified the subject matter," Malloy said in a staff report to the board. "The agenda identified this as an 'action' item, putting the public on notice that action might be taken by the board in relation to re-opening plans."

While the Dec. 15 meeting agenda item did not specifically reference the Jan. 5 reopening date or the postponement of in-person learning, it did broadly state "Pending board discussion, this item may be utilized by the board for any motions and votes related to the re-opening of schools."

"The board acted consistent with this agenda item in voting to postpone the re-opening in light of the ongoing pandemic crisis," Malloy added.

While the district maintains that its actions were legal, in order to avoid potential litigation costs, Malloy has recommended that without admitting any wrongdoing, the board execute an unconditional commit to DeLaney that would commit to "not repeat any actions alleged to have violated the Brown Act related to the Dec. 15, 2020, board agenda."

As a part of the commitment statement, the board would not use the same agenda description as it did in item 11.1 on Dec. 15.

The SRVUSD had previously been set to return to hybrid in-person learning after months of remote education on Jan.5, however those plans were postponed for the foreseeable future during the board's regular meeting on Dec. 15 due to a surge in the number of coronavirus cases.

"Opening schools is a community effort. We have to do it together. The district can't do it by itself, teachers can't do it by themselves, students and parents can't do it by themselves. It has to be everyone including the community," Board President Susanna Ordway said during the district's meeting on Dec. 15.

The SRVUSD Board of Education's regular meeting is set to be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday (Jan. 12). Interested residents can view the meeting live on the SRVUSD's YouTube channel.

Residents can provide public comment live at meetings by logging in or dialing into the district's Zoom meeting, which will be visible on the district's homepage of their website when the agenda for the meeting is posted.

To comment by video conference, residents will need to click the “Raise Your Hand” button while in the Zoom meeting to request to speak when public comment is being taken. Participants will be unmuted when it is their turn to speak and will be allowed to make a three minute comment.

To comment by phone, residents will be prompted to “Raise Your Hand” by pressing “*9” to request to speak when public comment is being taken.

Learn more about public comment online at www.srvusd.net/virtualpubliccomment.

In other business

* Taking care of some administrative changes to board assignments and leadership over the next year, during Tuesday's meeting the board will also appoint members to serve liaison assignments on the district's various advisory committees and commissions.

* Malloy will also provide an informational update on the district's efforts to eventually return to in-person learning and the state's path forward for re-opening campuses.

* The board is also set to convene for a special closed session held prior to the start of its regular meeting, where district officials will discuss anticipated litigation -- the specifics of which have not yet been released to the public.

That special meeting is set to start at 4:30 p.m.

Comments

kghantous
Registered user
San Ramon
on Jan 12, 2021 at 7:08 am
kghantous, San Ramon
Registered user
on Jan 12, 2021 at 7:08 am

The San Ramon Unified School District (SRUVSD) has made Herculean efforts to survey and accomplish the desires of parents who quite frankly cannot grasp the reality of this pandemic. These poor administrators and Board members have spent months exhausting themselves with extraordinary patience trying to come up with a plan to get us all back in school while navigating the reality that 600,000 Americans or more are expected to die from this deadly virus by Spring. The parents screaming to take off the parachute don’t comprehend the realities of what they really means to Contra Costa County because all they feel is their own personal frustration. Unfortunately, the Board and the parents gunning for them are not experts in global pandemics and have no choice but to abide by the dictates of science and thank God they ultimately made the only decision that keeps our community safe.

Thank you SRVUSD and please know that there are many parents who support your decision and who do not need to see the bodies splattered on the ground to know that the parachute is working !


H
Registered user
San Ramon Valley High School
on Jan 12, 2021 at 7:58 am
H, San Ramon Valley High School
Registered user
on Jan 12, 2021 at 7:58 am

@kghantous your comment makes no sense. If the effort is valid, why did SRVUSD need to violate the Brown Act to deny the hybrid reopening? The vote was unanimous, if there was no problem with the vote and everyone is comfortable with the decision, why not just put proper notice in the agenda and re-vote at tonights board meeting? The reason is simple. John Malloy and the Board of Education have been dishonest with their intentions to reopen schools since Summer. It's clear that John Malloy was brought in to lie to the community with meeting after meeting of reassurances only to pull the rug out at the last second. He has directly LIED to the community twice now about school reopening and other related issues. Why should anyone trust John Malloy ever again with anything?

Further, schools across the country have been open all year with no ill effect. For one example, schools in Austin Texas have been open since September with ZERO cases of community spreading through contract tracing. Further, Texas is in the process of prioritizing teachers for vaccinations, yet California has completely botched the vaccination rollout to the point where millions of does are going bad in California storage due to lack of preparation.

More to that point, how many people 0-18 have died of COVID-19 in California? ZERO!! The above poster using hyperbole of "bodies splattered on the ground" is nothing but disingenuous fear mongering. The plan is for HYBRID education where most at-risk people can remain at home where health kids can go to school which - again - has been proven safe not only in Texas, but Florida, Massachusetts, Germany, Sweden, basically the whole world.

Finally, the above poster clearly doesn't care about the actual dead students in San Ramon who have taken their own lives. How many children in SRVUSD have taken their own lives since the beginning of this unnecessary isolation? Where is the above posters sympathy for thee kids that have *actually* died? How terrible and disingenuous is it to take about saving children from an unleathel in their age group COVID-19 by sacrificing the lives of the children suffering with mental health issues? It's not right and it seems downright selfish to ignore kids actually dying to protect kids from a disease that when infected, they often don't even get symptoms!!!!

The above poster trying to impose her unreasonable fear on the community around her is frankly wrong. We live in a society of free choices. She is more than welcome to cower in fear at home for time immemorial. The rest of us however, are ready to move on with our lives. As such, we are done with SRVUSD's lies and deceptions to appease the unreasonable worldview of the people like the above commenter at the expense of our children's education and emotional future.


TAD
Registered user
Danville
on Jan 12, 2021 at 5:33 pm
TAD, Danville
Registered user
on Jan 12, 2021 at 5:33 pm

kghantous, great post. Right on the facts.

I strongly disagree with H. I have a six year old in SRVUSD and yes, it has been frustrating with the District's stops and starts and I empathize with parents. Anyone with half a brain however knew the COVID situation was not going to get better (not going away like a miracle), statistically, and in the absence of a widely distributed vaccine it just gets worse and worse. We had originally signed up for flex and then rescinded it realizing more infections were inevitable. Unfortunately, H (above) suggests that the implications of in-class schooling right now has no real impact on COVID deaths. That's simply because he/she is failing to consider the downside implications of having large numbers of persons (albeit children) in contact with one another spreading the virus. While the virus may present as non-fatal or even non-symptomatic to persons under 18, the children will certainly carry the virus home and to everyone else with whom they come in contact. Most of those folks being in the vulnerable age brackets. This isn't about "personal choice" it's about public health. Just because we live in the privileged Danville/San Ramon cultural bubble doesn't mean we are exempt from science or responsibility to the rest of the public.

By the way, statewide suicide deaths were down by 27% from 2019 (4/2019 to 10/2019) and (4/2020 to 10/2020) per the California Department of Health. I'd appreciate H telling us how many SRVUSD suicides there were and the increase decrease with with 2019. All H does is ask the question to stoke fear as if the answer was obvious. Also, suicides in Contra Costa County from March 2020 to November 2020 totaled 38, for the same period in 2019 it was 52, resulting in a decrease of 26%. While this is the most recent data from the State that is currently available, there is nothing to suggest that the trend reverses including the months of December 2020/2019. And given the very low number in total I seems counterintuitive to think that any age group has shifted its rates materially.

It's pretty clear the author (H) above wishes to stoke fear to support the argument for personal choice. I hear the same arguments of "essential" businesses versus "non-essential" or outdoor dining bans for that matter. Personal choice when it involves risky behavior becomes very limited during worldwide health crisis. Frankly, I am sick of everyone whining about it. It is what is, and will continue to get worse until a vaccine has been distributed to 70%+ of the population. Yes, EVERYONE has fatigue from this, but let's not try to stoke fear with the worries of unknowns when we can see that California COVID death totals 31K today with a geometric growth rate. We'd be silly to think this will change anytime before Summer.
Finally, as for the alleged Brown Act violation, whether it's true or not, it makes no difference. The Superintendent and Board will do what they believe is right as advised by public health professionals. Suing them won't change a thing. Don't like your District Board and Staff, vote them out or run against them.


H
Registered user
San Ramon Valley High School
on Jan 12, 2021 at 5:47 pm
H, San Ramon Valley High School
Registered user
on Jan 12, 2021 at 5:47 pm

TAD saying state law doesn't matter so long as he agrees with the outcome is all one needs to know about his posts. TAD also is completely ignoring the data from in-person education not only in other states but in day care centers that are located on SRVUSD campuses. Does he even recognize that large groups of kids are in daycare across the county with no ill effect. But, folks like TAD don't care because people like him want to force their authoritarian agenda on the rest of us.

Frankly, ignorant statements that ignore facts like TAD here does is exactly why kids are not in school. If TAD wants to keep is kids out of school for the rest of time and homeschool, he is more than welcome to do so. But, he had no right to force his outlandish viewpoints on others.

TAD why are schools successfully open FULLTIME in other states but it's not safe here? Explain that one.


Coach
Registered user
San Ramon
on Jan 12, 2021 at 8:38 pm
Coach, San Ramon
Registered user
on Jan 12, 2021 at 8:38 pm

Just want to make a correction to H's claim that no one under 18 in California has died due to COVID-19. First one died in Madera this August. Many more have followed, and I can't imagine the pain of those parents.

I do hear the frustration of this parent H who wants his/her student back in school, but instead of characterizing the superintendent as a liar, it would be more accurate, and civil, to concede he is listening to the advice of the state and county. With ICU capacity well under 15%, and the majority of cases spread by persons between 15-29, it is reasonable to delay the re-opening of schools while we are in the purple tier.

I hope we will vaccinate teachers of K-6 students ASAP so those students can begin to catch up with their studies. Learning to read should not be delayed, but this is a different order of magnitude in comparison to middle and high school students who can navigate much of their studies via online course content.


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