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County Schools Member Won't 'Referee' 'the 1%'ers'

Los Altos parents are a microcommunity at odds and there are more pressing matters at hand, Trustee Craig Mann tells parent.

A Santa Clara County Board of Education trustee curtly told a Los Altos parent he wasn't interested in spending any time in "building bridges" between residents who comprise 1 percent of the county.

Santa Rita parent Michelle Sturiale had emailed all members of the board to ask the body to publicly hammer out the details of a Bullis Charter School (BCS) memorandum of understanding because it affected all members of the school community. She had raised several points she thought should be addressed, and had encouraged the board to meet with Los Altos parents to discuss their concerns.

The county Board of Education oversees the administration of the charter for BCS, while the Los Altos School District is responsible for providing what public school facilities the charter school uses.

"Please understand I don't mean any harm, but I need to be really straight, direct with you in my response," wrote Trustee Craig Mann of Area 6, which comprises the Evergreen, Franklin-McKinley, Oak Grove, and corresponding sections of East Side Union High School districts.

"...this board member will not waste any time building bridges between adults of a microcommunity (1%) that are at odds," Mann wrote in an email that cc'd Mercury News reporter Sharon Noguchi, and Bullis Charter School principal Wanny Hersey. 

In her email, Sturiale had also suggested several areas addressing obligations to English Language learners in the district, abolishing geographical preferences, holding BCS school board elections, appointing a member of the county board to the BCS board, and encourage multi-year facilities agreements to reduce annual anxiety among parents inside and outside of BCS. 

Except for the ability to appoint a member of the county education board to BCS' board, trustees could not impose any of the suggestions on a charter school in a MOU, Mann wrote.

Nor was he interested in doing much else, he indicated.

"We have bigger problems to solve than referee a fight between the 1%'ers of our county (community) and I'm not wasting another nanosecond on said dysfunction." 

Sturiale said that some parents had started to voice concerns to the county board because they didn't know where else to go, and had been frustrated for years. She said many parents had not been aware of decisions that were being made elsewhere that then made a major impact on the school community. Sturiale said the PTA presidents have invited their area trustee, Michael Chang, to meet with them for the first time since his election more than a year ago.

"We just want to have a voice," she said. 

She and several parents were planning to attend the Jan. 11 county board meeting. The meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. at 1290 Ridder Park Drive in San Jose, does not have the BCS memorandum on its agenda, but Sturiale said they wanted to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting, which has 20 Rocketship charter school matters up for adoption.

"I'm hoping we can find a way we can be constructive and not just sit here and complain," she said. "What's happened is what happened." 

LASD observer January 13, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Craig Mann as playground supervisor: Billy: "Mr. Mann, Sally just cut through my hopscotch game and scuffed the chalk lines. Can you give me some sticks to make a boundary line around my game?" Craig Mann: "OK, here you go." (a little later) Sally: "Mr. Mann, Billy keeps hitting me with those sticks you gave him. Can you ask him to stop?" Craig Mann: "C'mon, this isn't my problem. Just sort it out yourselves."
Valuegal January 17, 2012 at 06:03 AM
You can recall board members...

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