• a person reading while board members are listening

      Tina Fredericks Insert) and Board meeting, April 27, 2023 (Photos – screengrabs from KLRN)

      The room was packed, standing room only, wall to wall with community members, parents, teachers, faculty members and students. It was good to see the community so engaged and actively taking part. It is always refreshing to see this many people partaking in the civic arena.

      By Billy Malone

      Almost everyone in the room was there for public comment. Each participant addressed the board directly with their concerns, thoughts, advice, and promotions. The range of topics included: security, facilities, Dr. Leslie Barnes (PUSD’s Finance and Operations Officer) leaving and how to replace her, promotions of school events like the upcoming Eliot Fauxchella music festival, positive influences of school name changes, and even one comment about closing schools from a John Muir faculty member.

      These comments went on for almost an hour. Agree or disagree with the process, the beauty of a true public school is the accountability to the public in open forums, and the opportunity for the public to have a voice, as was demonstrated this evening.

      As the meeting went on after closed session, Jonathan Gardner, UTP President, thanked the board for the new 10% wage increase as it has brought teachers from the bottom to top of the lowest sector of comparable, which is a good start.

      International Baccalaureate program at Blair

      There was an in-depth presentation on the IB program at Blair, where we heard positive outcomes directly from students themselves: students that had been in the program starting at Willard Elementary to their Senior year at Blair. The presentation showed not just how the IB worked for those in the program but for all the kids influenced by the IB within the school. The advantages of the program itemized and mentioned were: how to think, humanity, the world around us, solving it and our problems, and how we participate. It was in depth, very informative, and the faculty and students presenting could not have been more enthusiastic.

      Public Comments

      Tina Fredericks proposed implementing a hybrid PUSD board meeting similar to Pasadena City Council. Patrick Cahalan voiced concern on excessive uncontrolled public comments impacting the length of meetings, along with having the time to accommodate the need of all the public comments to be heard. Jennifer Hall Lee pointed out that many of the virtual comments with city council came from people outside of Pasadena and that a similar process could include people from outside of PUSD areas and the impact that has on the meeting and the more local comments. Kimberly Kenne thought it would be good for the committee meetings. President Michelle Richardson Bailey suggested further information is required before a decision can or should be made. Staff commented that, based on current facility limits, hybrid meetings could only take place within the current board room. The Board agreed to get more information.

      Violation of confidentiality?

      For obvious personal and confidentiality reasons certain items are typically discussed in closed session. Therefore, it was out of context when Tina Fredericks chose to read from an email in the meeting on an HR hiring topic that has been discussed in closed session (see video below, starting at 7:12:05). Patrick Cahalan stated that it “needs to be in closed session,” Michele Bailey confirmed the risk of such a public discussion. Jennifer Hall Lee reminded us of the board’s governance, and that they were all there for the children.

      Superintendent McDonald agreed that there should absolutely be a discussion on the matter in closed session, reiterated that this is a cabinet level position and the superintendent has the right to hire. What was happening here in open was a complete violation of confidentiality of the process, he added. The Board then quickly moved to approve the HR hiring 6 to 1, with Tina Fredericks being the one dissenting vote.

      The meeting concluded with a wonderful tribute to Dr. Leslie Barnes, Chief Finance & Operations Officer, for her services, how much she meant to the district, how appreciated she was for her hard work and her years of service. It was obvious she will be missed and hard to replace.

      > View the entire PUSD Board of Education April Regular Meeting below:



      [This article has been updated to clarify a statement and a paragraph and to correct the spelling of a name and link. May 8, 2023, 9:17 am]

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      1. Bobby says:

        The voters of her area have the opportunity next year to stop her inappropriate behavior.

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