School board president investigated

An investigation by the Templeton Unified School District’s attorney revealed there may have been two violations of the Brown Act by the school board’s president.

However, the possible violations were corrected because the issues were discussed in public before any action was taken by the board, Patricia Andreen, the district’s legal counsel, said Monday.

Andreen opened an investigation after district trustee Jeanne Hunt requested that current board president David La Rue step down. Hunt recommended that the board seek legal counsel to review what she and other trustees said were blatant violations of California’s open- meeting law, the Ralph M. Brown Act.

The district planned to spend up to $5,000 to investigate the alleged violations.

Andreen, who said the investigation is now closed, presented her findings at the school board’s meeting last week.

“I think the investigation showed what I was ascertaining all along, that there were no violations,” La Rue said Monday. “I feel that the board needs to move on and be unified (in) addressing student issues, which I always have.”

One of the possible violations happened Sept. 9, when La Rue wrote an e-mail about whether President Barack Obama’s speech should be shown in classrooms. The document was copied to three other board members.

In the Templeton district, with a five-member board, a trustee can talk to one other board member without violating the Brown Act, Andreen said.

However, the board held a meeting the following day to determine whether the speech should be shown, and in doing so, “cured the Brown Act violation,” she said.

The violations were settled — or cured — by allowing the public to be heard on an issue and the board to vote on it at a public meeting.

It was difficult to determine whether a second possible violation had occurred, Andreen said. Hunt alleged La Rue called the board by phone prior to a meeting to poll them about a layoff notice to be given to an administrator.

Board members remembered talking about it but did not remember whether the discussions happened on the phone or in a closedsession meeting. The issue was discussed in public and no action was taken against that administrator, she said.

Andreen found other allegations to be unfounded: that La Rue voted for money to be paid to his personal business to buy airline tickets for the Associated Student Body at Templeton High School; and that he removed an evaluation of Superintendent Deborah Bowers from an April agenda.

To the latter allegation, Andreen said that La Rue did not speak to other board members before removing the item from the agenda.

District trustees voted 4-0 to move forward with La Rue continuing to serve as board chair, she said. La Rue had abstained from voting.

“I think the remedy in this case is that they need to be updated on the Brown Act,” Andreen said. “I did do some of that with them, and I will continue to do more.”

The district will discuss its budget at the trustees’ June 24 meeting, La Rue said. The board will meet again on June 30 to consider approval of its budget for the next fiscal year.

“We need to refocus and get back to the business at hand for the district,” he said.