In what may have been one of the worst run Board Meetings of any kind I’ve seen in a long time, the Antioch Unified School District will need to get its act together if its to make any progress over the next few years.
(Editors Note – this meeting was so bizarre, it requires as editorial comment before the actual recap.
Don’t believe me, go to the video)
The special board meeting, which was called less than 48-hours after Ellie Householder was appointed board president, aimed to discuss the Superintendent Performance Evaluation along with changing the Bylaws of student board members.
Ultimately, the meeting accomplished nothing, but rather gave the community the realization that bridges will need to be rebuilt and Householder has a lot of growing up to do as she was all over the map and fumbled through much of the meeting. It also highlighted just how inexperienced, how unprofessional and how manipulative she is as she attempted to suppress public comments.
Furthermore, one would expect someone who is the elected City Clerk for the City of Antioch not to forget to perform the Pledge of Allegiance—this was nearly forgotten but was performed at the close of the meeting.
The bigger concern is how a city clerk who is now a Board President, could allow a meeting to be run that potentially had Brown Act Violations, little if no regard for Roberts Rules of Order, and manipulating the process to get out of reading public comments ahead of closed session.
It was stated that the District received more than 200 public comments. Only three were read, blasting Householder, before she cut off the comments and moved to closed session.
This came after requests were made by both Trustee Gary Hack and Clyde Lewis to postpone the item, however, Householder labeled it as a poorly worded agenda item and it was simply a “quick check in” which the Superintendent then accused Householder of attempting to rewrite history and disingenuous. Householder also accused the public of putting the horse before the cart.
At one point, I found myself actually embarrassed for Householder. But truth be told, I felt sorry for her fellow board members, staff and community for having wasted their time on a bogus “urgent item” that Householder requested be discussed.
Perhaps Mr. Clyde Lewis should rescind his support of Householder as president and they revote and put someone with more experience as Board President. Furthermore, perhaps the Board should actually censure Householder for a second time for wasting their time, staff time, and the community time as part of a personal vendetta, not community business. (Her first censure can be read here)
What takes the cake in all of this, however, is Householder called this meeting with a hard stop of just 1-hour—something that is unheard off in public service. She knows better than that because she is a city clerk and has also been an AUSD trustee for two-years. Who schedules a public meeting with a hard stop?
Sadly, its unknown if she called this hard stop before or after the 200 plus public comments were submitted.
And remember, when Householder was doing her own rabble rousing, advocating for her agenda by using young adults to carry her water for her, she advocated for all public comments to be read into the record. But on Monday, which highlights her own hypocrisy, she suggested after both she and Lewis leave at 1:00 pm, the rest of the board could hear the public comments be read into the record.
It would behoove this school board to take the Christmas break, have a hard reset by looking into the mirror and determine their goals because if they can’t honestly evaluate their own performance and actions, they have no business evaluating the performance of anybody else.
Audio/Video of the Meeting
Householder began the meeting stating they would begin going into closed session before staff reminded her of Public Comments, approximately 200 speaker cards.
“I know that Vice President Clyde Lewis has a hard stop at 1:00 pm as do I. So I think that what we can probably do depending on how my colleagues feel is read 30-minutes of them and then have those comments be continued onto another meeting, sent to us, cause they will be put into public records regardless,” stated Householder.
Superintendent Anello asked for a Point of Order, stating if there was still a quorum, they could continue the meeting and read the comments into the record.
Householder then had no response stating she wanted to respect her board members time.
Trustee Antonio Hernandez stated he would prefer to start the process and move the rest of it to another meeting in the future.
Trustee Gary Hack requested they put off the issue completely until another meeting because all of the comments are very valid.
“I’ve spent the weekend talking with many community members and members of the unions based on the urgency of this meeting being held today which was not originally scheduled with Ellie putting that on the agenda. Those comments, 200 I think she said, petitions I have too, I don’t think we should split it, we should do it at the same time. There is no urgency to deal with it today, and we do it in three weeks where there is no hard cap of time,” stated Hack.
Householder replied she thought it sounded pretty agreeable to her.
“I believe I am making an assumption here but I think a lot of these comments have to do here with Item No. B of the closed session Item, but I would like to tell folks listening in that the Superintendent is not being evaluated today, we are just having a conversation about the eventual June evaluation,” stated Householder. “I do agree with Trustee Hack that I a bit hesitant to split the comments because they are super valid, but I also don’t want people to think that their voices are being hindered. Then there is this additional thought that a lot of those comments will be a lot more helpful when we are actually doing an evaluation.”
Householder then suggested they go into closed session to discuss the items, discuss where they were at with time and discuss where they would be going forward with the meeting with the comments.
Deputy Superintendent Jessica Romero cautioned the Board that if they were to talk about a closed session item, they should at least hear 30-minutes of public comments.
Hack again suggested the move Item B (Superintendent Performance Evaluation) to the next meeting.
Householder then asked why Public Comments were not on the agenda in which staff reminded her Public Comments can take place on any item of the agenda—including closed session.
Householder then suggested they hear 30-minutes of Public Comments and then go into closed session.
Superintendent Anello then asked if Trustee Hack had made a motion to table the item.
Hack stated again his preference to hear the entire issue in the same meeting rather than splitting it up.
“The issue is this, Ellie made this statement that this is an urgent thing to put on the agenda and we are reacting to that urgency. I spent a number of hours this weekend talking to various people who have called me and reading emails that their belief that this is an absolutely attempt by an individual to get rid of the superintendent. I am not saying that is accurate. I am not saying that is valid,” stated Hack.
Hack continued stating there is some strong feelings out there and that the Board needed to hear them at the same time.
Householder responded saying she appreciated his opinion, but then attempted to defend herself.
“I will say that I did call for this meeting and the only reason why I put this evaluation on a closed session was to have a quick conversation with our new board members because if you recall when last Wednesday’s board meeting, our Superintendent said she didn’t feel grounded because the board did not have goals,” stated Householder. “We all kind of agreed with that and talked about our next step was being developing some goals and I thought as a precursor to that it might be good to just have a quick conversation about what the Superintendents evaluation was in the past and how it could be modified going forward. We also never had a chance to revisit the goals following the last evaluation.”
She continued calling it “unfair”.
“I think its unfair to evaluate somebody on metrics when we are in a landscape that this pandemic has provided. So really, I was hoping to talk about this more in closed session,” stated Householder. “The real impetus and the purpose of this evaluation is to explore this idea of how do you evaluate somebody in the absence of state testing. So I understand how folks feel and there is this sense that there is something nefarious going on, but I can assure you this item was added because it does take time and effort to make these meeting and this was something I had already penciled out to talk about in January. So I am just trying to make the most of everybody’s time since three of us work full time, so if we are going to take an hour out of our day I thought it would be good to touch base on something.”
Householder stated she was not in favor of moving it and thought they could talk about it for a few minutes stating two of them have to leave by 1:00 pm but wanted 30-minutes of comments.
Superintendent Stephanie Anello chimed in stating Householder was not honest in her intentions.
“While I appreciate your comments President Householder, I believe them to be somewhat disingenuous and your attempting to rewrite what happened in our meeting,” stated Anello who highlighted Householder wanted a meeting for the Student Board Member and that they asked not to put anything that isn’t urgent on this meeting because staff was on vacation, in which Householder then requested through email she wanted the Superintendent evaluation included on the agenda.
Hack stated he still thought it was valid for those who submitted comments, signed petitions, would like to hear everything and it not be at two meetings.
“There is no urgency,” stated Hack stating there are many opinions and reactions out there and they should be heard. “Ellie has her explanation, I think it’s very valid, however, the perception in the public and the District is different.”
Hernandez questioned if they put this off until another meeting would it continue the worry and concern of people and it would be looming ahead.
“My understanding is this is a discussion on how we navigate evaluations and how we prepare for that coming in June,” stated Hernandez noting what they have now does not fairly evaluate the superintendent during a pandemic that don’t capture what is going on.
Trustee Dr. Clyde Lewis asked for clarification if the purpose was to establish a set of goals or to understand the evaluation process because that was two separate things.
Householder stated it was to understand the process in an effort to get the Board to think about it over the next several weeks.
“I could have just sent it out in an email but I was hoping to be more transparent with the process and let you know some of my thoughts, get some of your thoughts,” stated Householder. “It’s a process, its not an establishment of goals.”
Lewis stated the questions are coming because of how the item was framed to the public stating performance evaluation versus dialogue around the evaluation process which created the anxiety.
“Is it the language that are giving people cause or the entire process?” asked Lewis.
Householder stated it was the language.
“At the end of the day, its just a title of an item and I’ve tried my best to provide context to folks,” explained Householder.
Hack again restated there are 200 public comments and requested they transfer this discussion of the Superintendent and the reaction and perceptions to the next meeting so you can deal with it and finish it.
Householder cited the reaction to this item shows that they need the new board members to understand the evaluation process and what it is and was unwilling to move it based on the anticipation and build up.
“I don’t think that is good governance and just kicking the can down the road,” stated Householder. “We are in closed session going to talk about this whether its for 15-minutes or 5-minutes. We will decide that in closed session. The issue right now is how we want to do these public comments.”
Householder suggested they have 10-minutes of public comments and then go into closed session and continue the rest of the comments understanding two of the Trustees will leave.
Anello stated while Householder was unwilling to move the item, with a first and a second motion, the item could be removed.
Hack then made the motion to remove the item, which failed to get a second which then prompted Householder to move forward with reading public comments.
A total of three public comments were read which offered support for the Superintendent while scolding Householders behavior in which prompted Householder to cut off public comments and move the meeting into closed session.
Hack stated the rest of the comments should be placed on a future agenda so the entire board could hear the comments.
Householder replied they would still have a quorum after 1:00 pm and the comments could be read.
Hack then stated it would not be fair that two board members would be leaving at 1:00 pm (Householder & Lewis) and the other board members would hear the 200 comments.
“I understand that Trustee Hack, but that is up to the Board Member and their responsibility to go back and listen to those comments,” stated Householder. “The board can’t proceed because they think one or two of the board members won’t hear those comments.”
Lewis and Hernandez stated they would like to hear the comments.
Householder then stated they were moving into closed session and then they will discuss it when they come back.
After coming out of closed session, the board opted to moved Board Bylaws on Student Board Member to a future meeting. (Note: Clyde Lewis had left the meeting)
Householder requested they close out this meeting and re-agenize the Superintendent evaluation and board bylaws before their next meeting—saying it would not be a meeting continuance, but adjourn today and have another meeting.
Hack again requested these item be placed on their next regular meeting.
Householder stated she was trying to be “cognizant of going super late” with a meeting. “I just don’t want to have to stay way super super late and that tends to be what’s happening lately.”
Anello asked for clarification from Deputy Superintendent Jessica Romero stating that an item was on the agenda, the board met and spoke about it but only heard 3 of 200 plus public comments. She also was unsure and will seek clarification on whether the public comments should have been read going into closed session.
Hack reiterated they needed to hear all the public comments, but now did not make any sense and requested they add it to the next board meeting or hold a special meeting just to hear public comments.
Trustee Mary Rocha requested they be read into the next regular meeting on January 13, 2021.
Householder suggested that the public comments be shared on the District website so they could look at them.
“I agree that people have taken time to write those comments and I have replied to every single email that has been sent my way and I so appreciate folks commenting, but I think that there was a cart before the horse on this one,” stated Householder. “This was just going to be a mid-point check in which is a best practice in all other districts that I have looked at when you get two new board members, but I also understand without the context it was a little bit scary, but rest assured the Superintendent evaluation is going to be in June like it has historically been.”
Householder then confirmed there was a consensus to read the comments at a later date which she stated she agreed they needed to be read out loud and was taking peoples comments seriously and would read them into the record at the next board meeting.
The board then adjourned.
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