A member of the Adelanto School District Board of Trustees is accusing top district officials of violating the state’s open meeting law by holding a “secret phone vote” over applying for competitive federal funds.
Board Clerk Carlos Mendoza said he believes that Superintendent Darin Brawley and Board President Lisa Marie Garcia breached the Ralph M. Brown Act by signing a state commitment to the second round of the federal Race to the Top program, without any public discussion or board approval.
“The reason why I’m blowing the whistle on this is I have no idea if they’re ever going to make their actions public, because they haven’t yet and I don’t understand why,” Mendoza said.
The national grant competition could award states up to $700 million for education innovation and reform — with several strings attached, including making changes to teacher evaluations, complying with new national education standards, easing limits on charter schools and more.
On May 21, Mendoza said, Brawley phoned and e-mailed board members to poll their opinions on signing the binding Race to the Top memorandum of understanding between the district and California Department of Education. The application was due to the state by May 22.
Mendoza said he refused to agree to the MOU before it could be publicly discussed and he could ask more questions about its implications. He added he wasn’t sure how his fellow board members responded.
“The superintendent conducted a secret phone vote outside of a board meeting to take action on an item never posted on an agenda,” Mendoza wrote in a May 25 letter to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit.
Garcia said she signed the agreement under the advice of attorneys, and she expects the June 22 school board agenda to include discussion and an official vote to ratify the grant participation.
The Adelanto School District is the only school district in the High Desert and one of three county-wide which applied for the funds, according to the California Department of Education.