a student making a comment during a public meeting

      Public Comment at PUSD meeting, Nov. 16, 2023 (Photo – Screengrab, KLRN)

      “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The PUSD Board would do well to heed this ancient proverb. In its quest for equity, its murky notions of solutions could lead our schools down a fiery spiral of enrollment declines and community malaise.

      By Juan Pablo Alban

      Two examples on display during the Board’s November 16 meeting illustrate the risk: its process for adding a student Board member, and allocation of Measure O bond money for school safety.

      Student Board Member

      My son, a junior at Blair, attended the meeting to discuss the current process to add a student Board member—a laudable goal but one that must adhere to the California Code of Education. Section 35012(d) of that Code compels the Board to appoint one or more elected student members upon receipt of a [student-signed] petition. After receipt of that petition, no future Board can ever remove this student membership right. The Board does not have any other power to appoint a student. Yet the Board’s November 16 agenda called for a now-postponed vote on a petition-less process that an unelected student Think Tank devised. Why? As my son explained to the Board last Spring, he has worked this semester on a signed petition. Instead of ignoring Section 35012’s democratic petition process, the Think Tank should help complete it.

      Measure O Funding Plans

      The pleas for fair allocation by multiple Marshall students, including some who suffered injuries because of the dilapidated condition of their athletic fields, concluded to loud cheers with a plea for the Board to “stop penalizing excellence in the school district.” Indeed. Based on rankings, Marshall stands out as the most academically excellent high school in the District, and it has full enrollment. Similarly, Don Benito elementary has an impressive track record on academics, attracting increasing numbers of families. Yet, despite both schools getting the short end of the stick in the last voter-approved bond measure (Measure TT), the Board once again wants to give these two schools the proverbial middle finger on safety fund allocation.

      Ensure the Safety of All Our Schools

      Marshall’s DELAC president nailed it with a simple question to the Board: Are you trying to have Marshall collapse so that you can justify closing it? Some Board members and the interim Superintendent answered sheepishly, relying on procedural posturing that spoke a thousand words. Without public disclosure or discourse about the controversial topic of school closures, the Board wants to force the public’s hand by using its massive powers on Measure O allocation. It puts at risk the safety and education of thousands of PUSD kids. Shame on them. They should stop acting like politicians—a tall order, but kids’ safety depends on it. Pasadena voters approved Measure O to ensure the safety of all our schools, not just some schools of the Board’s choosing.

      Juan Pablo Alban is an attorney with Pasadena-based Stuart Alban Law and a parent at Blair High School and Westridge.



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