Claremont Insider: Steven Llanusa Speaks from Exile

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Steven Llanusa Speaks from Exile

Very recently, CUSD Board member, Steven Llanusa, spoke out in the Daily Bulletin on his muzzling by the Claremont Unified School District Board. Although the letter appears on the Bulletin website today, it is likely that the editors will replace it with more current material. Hence, we copy it here:

Stifling speech

Your recent article about the Claremont school board's new censure policy touched on some topics that should be explained more fully. (Re: "Claremont board votes to create censure policy," Oct. 1.) What was not mentioned in the article is that the board president and Superintendent Dave Cash have complete control over what can be discussed because they create each agenda for our meetings.

We had "Written Communication" on our agenda for several years. It let board members share written information from constituents. Last July, a letter sent to the board from a high school employee alleged some families and district officials were getting special treatment regarding attendance policies. After that letter was quoted at the July board meeting, "Written Communication" was removed from the agenda.

During public comment at the August board meeting, the superintendent's wife announced she had taken her student out of school without following the policy in the Parent Student Handbook to excuse the absence. While scores of students this semester are denied off-campus privileges for similar unexcused absences last semester, the superintendent's family was given special treatment and no such consequence. Under the "Future Agenda Items" at our next meeting, I requested an investigation into this matter.

After that meeting, Superintendent Cash threatened me with legal action if I didn't drop the subject. However, I continue to believe my role as a board member is to ensure policies are implemented fairly for all students. "Future Agenda Items" has also been removed from our board agendas.

The new bylaw limiting what board members may say during our reports was presented by Superintendent Cash. In the past, I could have shared our constituents' concerns during this time, but not now.

Three avenues of communication have thus been eliminated and a censure policy instituted. Regarding these restrictions, I have never seen so much effort put into stifling opportunities where people could express questions or criticism of the superintendent or the school district.

STEVEN LLANUSA Board member, Claremont Unified School District

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We recommend Llanusa get in line at public comment unless the censure policy prohibits that, too. (The censure policy is reproduced below, thanks to the Bulletin. Click on images to enlarge.)