Clayton Valley Charter sets process for school board replacement
By Lou Fancher
Moving to fill an open community-at-large governance position made vacant after the sudden resignation of trustee Jim Killoran on April 3, the Clayton Valley Charter High School board determined procedures for a special appointment.
After some discussion of the benefits of delaying the election and tasking the election committee with more training to better inform candidates of trustee responsibilities, the board voted at its April meeting -- with chairman Ted Meriam dissenting -- to follow the standard, expedited timeline suggested in the bylaws.
"Jim didn't resign because he didn't know the job," said board member Dana Tarantino.
In his letter to the board, Killoran attributed his resignation to a "philosophical disagreement," and financial and legal concerns regarding employees being board members.
Even so, the board approved a motion that a short "101" refresher course be added to the elections process to review trustee parameters. Classified staff trustee Diane Bailey, retired teacher Richard Asadoorian and Meriam form the ad hoc Special Elections Committee.
A public announcement outlines the open position's criteria, duties, term limit and application materials, and establishes an April 30 deadline for interested candidates. Links to the school's bylaws on the CVCHS website provide complete information about the charter. Vice chairwoman Megan Kommer said candidates who applied previously when Killoran was elected will be reconsidered, if they remain interested.
The meeting once again stacked public comment prior to board discussion of agenda items, a new policy begun last month. Whereas the March meeting was packed to overflowing with roughly 100 people and speakers sharply divided over the school's governance and administration shouted, interrupted, and often ignored three-minute public comment guidelines, the dozen people making comment at the meeting were notably brief and courteous.
Perhaps Kommer's stern introductory warning that "unruly and disruptive shouting over others, booing and going over time limits" would not be tolerated set the tone. Behavior outside of respectful decorum, Kommer said, would result in one warning, then removal by security personnel.
Criticism was still sharp, especially relating to an editorial letter written by Meriam and published in this newspaper. Following a finding by the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office of no criminal wrongdoing after numerous complaints about the school's operation had been filed and an investigation conducted, Meriam provided his perspective on the charter's success and struggles. He said the school was determined to move beyond what he called "specious accusations" and "political posturing" by people opposed to the administration and executive director Dave Linzey.
Ten people spoke about the school's progress and ongoing struggle (the Contra Costa County Office of Education is conducting a separate investigation and could revoke the school's charter if it finds wrongdoing), with eight people heralding improved test scores and other signs of academic success. Still, dissenting voices spoke strongly.
Kipp Penovich compared the administration's recent hiring of a public relations representative as "putting lipstick on a pig" and said communications from the school are "hyperbolic and skewed." But he added, "Usually, extremes aren't the ultimate solution."
Avoiding extremes for the remainder of the meeting, the board approved a Guardian Security Agency contract for the campus, elected Patrick Gaffney to replace Killoran on a committee charged with drafting updated bylaws and governance membership criteria, and received an update from Kommer and trustee Amber Lineweaver on the draft.
The committee plans to bring rewritten bylaws and a checks-and-balances calendar for routinely reviewing fiscal operations to the May board meeting for approval and discussion.