Brown Act Compliance and the Garden Grove Unifed School District

Yesterday, I wrote about the letter sent to the Garden Grove Unified School District by Richard McKee of Californians Aware. Counsel for the district Ron Wenkart responded to Mr. McKee yesterday afternoon with the following:

Dear Mr. McKee:

We are in receipt of your letter of February 1, 2010, and we have reviewed it on behalf of the Garden Grove Unified School District.  For the February 2, 2010, meeting,  we are planning the following responses to the points in your letter:

    1.  The Board will orally ask if there are any public comments at the beginning of the 5 p.m. study session.

    2.  The Board is not planning to hold the closed session on potential litigation but may hold a closed session on negotiations with its labor negotiators as authorized by Government Code section 54957.6.

    3.  The Board will announce that public comments will be held prior to the approval of the minutes.

    4. &5.  Our offices has been in contact with the Superintendent and future agendas will reflect the changes.

    6.  The Board’s practice is to reconvene in open session after closed session and announce any actions taken and then adjourn the meeting.

Our office will assist the district in drafting a letter to you formally responding to your letter within 20 days from February 1.

Ron Wenkart 

Lan Nguyen

I attended the 7:00 pm session and Mr. McKee the 5:00 pm Study Session. The meeting ran a little under an hour. I commented at the beginning of the meeting when the Board opened the meeting for “public Comment.” I encouraged the board to be more vigilant in its efforts to comply with both the letter and spirit of the Brown Act. I also took a swipe at Vice President Lan Nguyen for his comments at the prior meeting where he referred to the matter of Brown act compliance as a “distraction form the district’s mission.”

The Board made no comment at all regarding the matter of Brown Act compliance. I grew up in the deep south, so their lack of response was remenissent of the common southern family response to problems – ignore them, and hope they go away.

What was telling however was the interaction between President Harden and Vice President Nguyen just prior to the meeting beginning. Harden leaned over to Nguyen who was seated next to him on the dais and told him that he planned to change the order of the agenda to hold public comment prior to the approval of minutes, as Wenkart told Mckee would happen. In response, with what can only be described as a sarcastic tone, Nguyen said; “Wo, you’d better be careful you may violate the Brown Act.”

Well, what should I expect from the guy who called the Brown Act a distraction.

The Board ended up not holding a closed session as noticed on the agenda. They said it was because they had nothing to talk about and that agenda item was a “placeholder.”

There are several matters yet to be resolved and from what Mr. McKee and I saw, multiple violations of the Brown Act last night. We’ll have to see if they correct anything by their next agenda.