TVUSD board breaks law, refuses to self-report

Opinion section
Valley News - Opinion

School board members make a promise to uphold the law when they take their oath of office. If, in the course of their official duties, they violate that oath and break the law, a major breakdown of our system has occurred. In such an instance, there are two legitimate options.

First, self-report the violation and request an outside investigation of the circumstances leading to the violation.

Second, resign.

Three current TVUSD board members – Sandy Hinkson, Kristi Rutz-Robbins and Julie Farnbach – have decided to undertake a third approach: pretending that the violation is irrelevant because it is in the past and directing scarce taxpayer dollars to pay a school district attorney to tell a whistleblower school district employee – myself – to drop the issue.

Over the last several years, the board has wholeheartedly adopted a far-left wing agenda to do everything possible to minimize family choices in public education. While there is nothing wrong with board members being opposed to charter schools, when they use their position of public trust to violate the law in order to fulfill their political agenda, their legitimacy to hold office is gone.

When a petition to establish a charter school is before a board, Education Code Section 47605 requires a board’s denial of a charter to be based on facts. If a charter school has previously operated, their record is very easy to factually verify. For example, educational performance is based on California Department of Education data and fiscal responsibility is based on auditor conclusions.

Keegan Academy, a charter school that previously operated in Temecula, submitted a petition to the board seeking to reopen. Keegan Academy’s record of academic growth far surpassed contractual targets – the school was required to have API growth of 5 points in its third year, and it grew by 61 – and all of the school’s audits had the highest rating. Based on these facts, the board voted that Keegan Academy’s history was educationally unsound and fiscally mismanaged. In other words, they adopted lies as facts to suit their left-wing agenda.

The board’s hearing on the Keegan Academy petition was presided over by former board member and oral surgeon and professor of oral surgery, Dr. Allen Pulsipher. He allowed a hearing in which the charter school’s petitioners were not allowed to present and not allowed to take board questions, yet a hostile school district administrator and attorney were afforded this privilege. No data or documentation was presented, yet the board made the above-referenced determinations of fact and that’s when they violated the law. A one-sided hearing in which no evidence is presented is so egregiously improper and un-American, it would make Kim Jong Un blush.

Pulsipher is seen as a pillar in our community, and I have no idea what motivated him to compromise his values for the purpose of serving a left-wing agenda. The fallout from this situation has been approximately $1 million of taxpayer funds squandered at the local, state and federal levels. It had nothing to do with how Keegan Academy previously performed or what’s good for children, it’s all about a school district unconscionably flexing its muscle to serve the left and preserve attendance funding at any cost.

If you believe that board members should be faithful to their oath of office and that a nonprofit charter school with an exemplary record is a good thing, join me in calling for members Hinkson, Rutz-Robbins and Farnbach to either self-report their violation of the law and call for an outside investigation, or resign.

Rob Clause

Temecula resident