2022 March BUSD Board Meeting: Power Shifts Within The District
BUSD’s March board of education meeting covered a wide range of topics concerning the school district and faculty. Board member Laura Sanchez-Ramirez did not attend the meeting and had Board President, Renita Armstrong, deliver a message on her behalf, stating, “I am informing you that I am resigning from the Board effective Friday, April 1, 2022.” Because her term has four months left, the Board will now have to fill Sanchez-Ramirez’s seat by appointment rather than having a special election. Sanchez-Ramirez is now a candidate for Lakewood City Council District 2’s June election.
After 20 months of parents, students, and teachers asking, the BUSD board live streamed this meeting. The initial request was made in July 2020 but didn't make it onto the board’s agenda until January 2021. Although there is an archive set up, the meeting cannot be accessed at this time.
Superintendent Tracy McSparren reminded everyone that starting Monday, March 14, students are no longer required to wear a mask in school or for any school activities. She also responded to the questions about vaccination status as there has been speculation surrounding California State law requiring high school students to be vaccinated. She confirmed that there is no set decision if vaccinations will be required for students come next Fall.
Board Vice President Richard Downing commented on agenda item 22.214.171.124, A-G completion improvement Grant Program Plan. He remarked that AP testing for students should become free and the board should provide the payment. He says, “These students don't need another financial burden on themselves.” Board Clerk, Mayra Garza, agreed with Downing, saying, “That is something I would love to have taken a look at.” McSparren and Armstrong responded, saying they are working on softening the AP testing fees and adding waivers.
McSparren also shared that there is a program in place to revisit students’ grades during Covid when they received a F or a “No Mark.” Those grades during distance learning are affecting students’ GPA but BUSD is looking to surrounding districts who do not include them. The board was in agreement that a F or “No Mark” should not be able to influence their GPAs going into college. They have not made a final decision.
The Board opened non-agenda time and took public comments. Nicole Gates, a stakeholder with children in the district, commented, “Due to the shortage of substitute teachers, my daughter has had her principal, counselor and intervention teacher sub her class. When these three school members must sub a class, the school does not run effectively. We need our principal to run the school. We need the counselor to help students. We need our intervention teacher to work with struggling students.”
Steven Lopez gave a public comment informing two board members that they are being recalled, “To the school board of trustees, Renita Armstrong [President] and Dr Sue ElHessen [Member], we hereby give notice that we as stakeholders in the community will now serve you legal proceedings to recall you from elected office.” He explains that even in light of Sanche-Ramirez’s resignation, they decided to recall her as well, and she will be receiving that paperwork via certified mail. He states the grounds for the recalls are because they are “Negligent, ineffective, and failing out kids.” He says they have failed to put students’ education first and have mishandled district funds. He also points out that the board has not followed transparency laws and not providing public records required by law as well as violations of the Brown Act. Lopez says their inability to vote out McSparren has made for unsafe learning conditions and failed special education, and poor work environment for employees.