Letter from DA says board should have announced it had a finalist for superintendent job eventually filled by Matt Hill
By Kelly Corrigan, Burbank Leader | http://bit.ly/1GIB3yf
June 23, 2015 | 4:43 p.m. :: The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has confirmed that Burbank school board members violated the Brown Act when they failed to report they had selected a finalist for the district’s superintendent position, about two months after the Burbank Teachers Assn. called for an investigation.
The district attorney’s office, however, will not take any action because the finalist they hired, Matt Hill, has “long become public,” according to the letter Deputy District Atty. Bjorn Dodd sent to the board earlier this month.
“However, we expect that this letter will suffice to inform the board, so that it does not repeat the same violation in the future,” Dodd added.
The June 8 letter stated the selection of the finalist, even with contract negotiations still pending, “was the type of collective decision that the act requires to be reported out of closed session.”
In April, the Burbank Teachers Assn. alleged the school board did not report any information out of its March 15 meeting.
School board member Larry Applebaum said then school officials were “scrupulous to follow the tenets of the law,” adding: “If they wanted us to say we had candidate A and candidate B as our finalist, that was never going to happen. The fact that they want to know who the finalists were, that’s information that’s never, ever shared.”
But it was not necessary for the school board to announce the finalist’s name, according to Dodd’s letter. Instead, “the board should have publicly reported merely that it had selected a finalist candidate for superintendent,” the letter states.
In April, many teachers spoke against Hill’s lack of teaching experience and opposed his hiring. Hill was most recently the chief strategy officer for Los Angeles Unified schools.
Lori Adams, president of the Burbank Teachers Assn., said the letter should serve as an important reminder for school officials.
“While the Burbank Teachers Assn. wishes to move forward, we feel it is important that the BUSD School Board is aware of its responsibility to the public and will begin to report out on any actions taken in closed session,” she said in an email.
“The Brown Act is a very important law that holds our elected officials accountable to the public who have entrusted them to act on their behalf. For it to be effective, we must insist that they follow the law,” she added.
Adams said the union hopes the board “will follow a more transparent process” in the future.
“Since Steve Ferguson and Dr. Armond Aghakhanian have joined the board, we already see an improvement in transparency and openness and look forward to more changes in the future,” her email states.
Ferguson and Aghakhanian joined the board after Hill was hired.
In her response to the violation, school board member Roberta Reynolds said the board referred the letter to its legal counsel for review.
“We have no comment at this time,” she said.