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AUSD Superintendent Vital Denies Dissuading Parents, the Public, from Speaking at Public Meetings

Updated, 3:40 p.m., September 21st – At 3:30 p.m. we received notice from AUSD about a 4:00 p.m. meeting today of the Alameda City Council / AUSD School Board Joint Subcommittee Meeting at City Hall, which includes an update on the WCDC child care plans. Normally AUSD notices us 24 hours in advance of these special meetings, in accordance with the Brown Act. We could not find evidence of the meeting on the City of Alameda’s calendar.

After reporting last week on the efforts of Alameda parents to save Woodstock Child Development Center programs, Action Alameda News has received further reports of parents and members of the public being turned away from Alameda Unified School District public meetings or otherwise dissuaded from speaking at a public meeting, despite guarantees in the California Brown Act that permits them to do so. AUSD Superintendent Kirsten Vital denies that this has happened, or that the District would dissuade the public from speaking out on issues at public meetings.

None of the people we spoke to were willing to speak for attribution, out of fear of retribution by the District against themselves or their children. However, Action Alameda News has received reports that Woodstock Child Development Center Director Carol Barton turned members of the public away from a public meeting in June, and dissuaded people from speaking out to call for support for the child care programs offered by the center. Parents ready to rally in support of the programs went home dejected. Action Alameda News also received a report that parents were told in advance of last week’s School District meeting, where plans for school consolidation were discussed, that the meeting was for “listening, not speaking.”

School District Superintendent Kirsten Vital told Action Alameda News that, “I am not aware of anyone being turned away. If anyone was turned away – I would want to know from individual parents who turned them away,” and that, “Carol Barton shared with me that she did not dissuade families from attending. As a district we have encouraged public participation and voice. We welcome people coming to speak and have published all meetings in order to get more public participation.”

A guide to the California Brown Act, produced by the State Attorney General’s office, says that, “Under the Act, the public is guaranteed the right to provide testimony at any regular or special meeting on any subject which will be considered by the legislative body before or during its consideration of the item.”

4 comments to AUSD Superintendent Vital Denies Dissuading Parents, the Public, from Speaking at Public Meetings

  • I have interviewed Superintendent Vital at some length, over an hour, twice. She has impressed me both times as having her own agenda, having the Trustees, all but one, buffaloed, and as looking to Alameda voters to strengthen her position by voting against egregious parcel tax initiatives. “Let the voters of Alameda decide,” she told me, without quite a wink, but with a definite opening to the other side, the dark side, where, without funding, she gets to gut the teachers’ unions and set things right, finally, closing many schools, laying teachers off, increasing class sizes — none of which actions would really diminish student learning opportunities, just get Alameda caught up with the rest of the world.

    So I’m torn. There are many ways to achieve Education Reform, and Vital’s several agendas may be essential, but as a former teacher, I’d rather see things like accountability and merit pay for the very best become part of the paradigm.

  • nan vicknair

    Yea right. My daughter told me recently that she cannot wait until our generation is dead so she and her generation can make needed, overdue changes. That was hard to hear since I am a beat away from a hearty tack but she does have a point. We oldies should give up all this cr*ap and this verbal and written BS and let our young ones take over. Time for us to be duct taped. They are going to have families and live 40-50 years past us, so let’s just fade away with grace rather than appearing like tired oldsters that they just smile and nod to when they really are not even listening to us. Talk to the kids–see how they feel about your views. I personally am outta here. I dislike Alameda now and what it has become.

  • Coach

    Now I have some personal experience with ausd staff and I sure hope vital is not like the administration at a certain school. The adminstration is very corrupted and this is coming from someone who had views of the school. I hope that vital can eventually purify this set of staff but in cases where it may be too late, all hopes lost.

  • Since publishing this article, we’ve heard from others that maintain that Carol Barton did dissuade parents from attending a June AUSD meeting where WCDC was on the agenda. We’ve asked Superintendent Vital to go back and double-check with Barton.