Public Comments from Governing Board Meeting 10/20 - Jeff Kingsberg
I watched with interest the section of the Governing Board Meeting on October 6th which featured TVUSD legal counsel Mark Thompson speaking about district rights and responsibilities regarding announced support for ballot measures and/or political candidates. He evaluated this in application to the District, Governing Board, Employee Organizations, and General Public.
Mr. Thompson provided a disclaimer of sorts in that he is paid to keep TVUSD “out of trouble” and suggested a safe and conversative path. While I understand the importance of staying neutral and not demonstrating favoritism, the spirit of Mr. Thompson’s report can be viewed as a widespread crushing of the 1st Amendment.
Governing Board Members hold elected office, and the nature of Governing Board Meetings are inherently political. The suggestion that political speech in the form of a Public Comment from either a community member or an Employee Organization be banned during a governance meeting seems extreme.
The last part of this discussion centered around the district addressing outside senders who violate the TVUSD Acceptable Use Technology Policy by e-mailing employees promoting a political candidate.
This has become a relevant concern this fall as our TVEA members who teach in Trustee Area 5, have reported not one, not two, but three different emails they have received from TVUSD Candidate Enrique Perez’s campaign in Trustee Area 5.
What is particularly troublesome about this is that in each of these communications to employees on the district server, there is an explicit endorsement of Mr. Perez’s candidacy by current school board member Dr. Kristi Rutz-Robbins. Throughout the California Education Codes and TVUSD Board Policies cited by Mr. Thompson was an overriding theme to not permit district services, supplies, or equipment to be utilized in this sphere.
This brings up a question that I would like TVUSD and particularly Dr. Rutz-Robbins to publicly address:
Was she complicit in this series of sent e-mails to TVUSD employees or did she provide tacit approval to this campaign effort?
If so, she should be admonished by TVUSD and her fellow board members. If not, she should explain to clear her name.
It is difficult for the TVUSD community to digest a discussion about limiting political speech as a TVUSD’s board member’s endorsement is littering TVUSD employees “In” mailbox