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Commentary: A tale of two board discussions

By Duncan Brown

There have been the best of times and the worst of times in the San Dieguito Union High School District. 

Under the former leadership of President Maureen “Mo” Muir and Vice President Michael Allman, SDUHSD saw multiple lawsuits, a county takeover of the district map process, threats of censorship, accusations of harassment, parents making transphobic comments about students on social media, the resignation of two trustees and a revolving door of five superintendents. 

Meetings went as late as 1 a.m. and Allman’s disdain for teacher and student voices led to an almost successful effort to recall him. 

However, the new board led by President Rimga Viskanta  and Vice President Jane Lea Smith (both elected in 2022) promised to put an end to the dysfunction. 

Last week, when the board unanimously voted to approve an updated governance handbook should have been a moment to celebrate all of their efforts. 

Sadly, it wasn’t. 

Just minutes before the long-anticipated approval of the handbook, the board fell into chaos as Allman made a last minute power grab to take over the discussion of building pools. 

Executive staff had just reported and all board members expressed their support to move forward with the pool. With student athletes and their parents in the audience, it looked like a moment of unity, something to finally join all members of the community together in harmony.

Out of nowhere, Allman requested that the board approve a resolution that he had drafted. 

“What resolution?” 

Nothing was attached to the agenda as required by Ed Code. 

“I didn’t receive a resolution,” Trustee Katrina Young stated. 

Apparently, Allman had emailed the board at 9:22 p.m., while they were in the middle of deliberating about the pool. 

The entire board, including the newly hired and very experienced Superintendent (Dr. Anne Staffieri), looked shocked and confused. 

A chorus of voices rang out expressing concern for a resolution that was emailed during a public meeting and could be a possible violation of the Brown Act.

Allman’s terrible governance is exceeded only by his willingness to disrupt meetings with political stunts. 

Let’s hope in the future that any Trustees with alternative motives of stealing the limelight and trying to push through an agenda that appears to be his signature platform for re-election, might take some time to read the handbook that he just approved. 

Only then can we get back to the best of times.

Duncan Brown is a retired educator and president of the San Dieguito Faculty Association.

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