Dublin school board members called to resign over texts

DUBLIN – Three school board members on the east side of Dublin are facing calls to resign following allegations that they coordinated an effort to effectively oust another board member on the west side in a redistricting process more early this year.

The school board plans to hold a July 12 meeting at which the district’s legal counsel is expected to say that none of the actions of the three board members violated Brown’s Law, the state law that governs meetings. public, as they apparently texted separately with the same resident about redistricting plans, according to district reports.

But some critics say their faith in the three council members is already lost.

Screenshots of text messages from Dublin Unified School District Board Chairman Dan Cherrier in conversation with resident William Carey. (Image courtesy of Mary Washington/Dublin Unified School District)

“We can no longer trust what you say in the future and these events have even caused us to question things that you may have done in the past,” Catherine Brown, a district teacher, told the three board members at a meeting on June 28. , where she demanded their resignation.

A wave of controversy swept through the district after Mary Washington, a parent and district employee, posted screenshots of text messages from the phones of the chairman of the Dublin Unified School District board on Facebook, Dan Cherrier, and board members Gabi Blackman and William Kuo.

Washington obtained the district’s screenshots as part of its response to a public records request it filed. She said the various posts, often involving discussions with resident William (Bill) Carey, show him ‘pulling strings’ to influence board members to choose a district voting card specific, called scenario 1.

Carey, according to his LinkedIn page, is a financial controller at the Couchbase company in Santa Clara. Carey, in a text message on Friday, declined an interview, saying he contracted COVID after a trip to Europe. He said his children were currently at university but previously attended Dublin Unified Schools.

The map, which was finally approved on February 22 by all three members, puts the other two board members, Kristin Pelham and Megan Rouse, in the same district and could force them to run one against later. the other.

Pelham and Rouse voted against the map, which extends Zone 2, currently represented by Rouse, eastward past Dougherty Road, and encompasses what was previously part of Zone 1, currently represented by Pelham.

In a Jan. 22 text from Carey to Cherrier, Carey wrote, “Whatever the path, we can have a line of support. The next message he sent said, “Deciding if it’s more important to get Megan or Kristen out OR to reinforce (sic) 3 east areas.”

Screenshots of text messages from Dublin Unified School District Board Chairman Dan Cherrier in conversation with resident William Carey.  (Image courtesy of Mary Washington/Dublin Unified School District)
Screenshots of text messages from Dublin Unified School District Board Chairman Dan Cherrier in conversation with resident William Carey. (Image courtesy of Mary Washington/Dublin Unified School District)

In another text to Cherrier, Carey wrote, “Dan, a few comments. When you don’t communicate and go rogue, it’s hard to align William, Gabi, and the wider community with something in common.

Cherrier replied, “I’ll call later.”

On Jan. 23, Carey appeared to text in a group message that included Blackman, and he wrote, “…for me a little tweak like moving the camp parks is good enough, especially with the overall outcome of putting Megan and Kristin in the same area.”

In a text exchange between Cherrier and a resident identified in a screenshot as Ramya, Cherrier explained how one of the cards “gets Megan in with Shafer Ranch and we can get people to show up against her. Politics enter into the decision.

Carey, in a text chat with Kuo on Jan. 10, wrote in part, “Hello. For the admin limits discussion tomorrow, the goal for tomorrow should be to get them to play out different additional scenarios before the next meeting. He also told Kuo what kind of cards to “specifically request, please.”

Later in the thread, Kuo thanks Carey for the “direction and guidance.” Kuo also asked Carey to speak on the phone on February 22, before the board meeting.

Kuo and Cherrier both denied any wrongdoing and said speaking with voters was part of their job.

“I regularly thank voters for their input and advice in the emails I receive,” Kuo said in an email. “That doesn’t mean, however, that I always agree with their views.”

Cherrier, in a phone interview, said he never violated Brown’s law and called the whole issue “nonsense” that distracts from the real issues.

“I never told anyone how I was going to vote. I never tell people how I’m going to vote in advance,” he said.

He said he chose the Scenario 1 map based on what he thought was best for Latino voters and to minimize changes for other voters.

Washington said she didn’t buy Cherrier’s explanation. “They’re looking at how they can eliminate an admin member and consolidate power,” she said of the texts.

Blackman did not respond to a request for comment.

Washington said the texts show there is a clear “lack of transparency” in the decision-making of three of the board members, who she said had made a decision on district boundaries before the February 22 meeting.

“I think they came very close (to breaking Brown’s law) if they didn’t cross the line,” she said in an interview.

At the June 28 meeting, several people, including teachers and parents, reprimanded the three council members, called for their resignation and called for the decision on the district map to be reversed.

“We know now that there were two very different conversations going on,” said Kelly Baalman, a district teacher and mother of three.

“While they were supposed to alter the trusteeship map to balance population and demographics – and they claimed to do so publicly – they were actually discussing plans for their own political gain and the demise of others, in out of the public eye,” she said.

Some people defended the board members at the June 28 meeting. Stacy Dennig said people criticizing the board members involved were engaging in “bullying.”

Screenshot of Dan Cherrier in text conversation with a resident identified on the phone as Ramya.

Patricia Burroughs, a relative, said the posting of the text messages sparked a “smear campaign” against the three administrators.

“I see no evidence of a violation of the Brown Act. What I see is evidence that the administrators are very responsive and receptive to public input,” she said.

While it’s common for residents to contact board members, Pelham, in an interview, said it appears the contribution to this issue was selective.

“I think the fact that the contribution was only going to three people, not five, is the concern here,” she said.

“I’m just disappointed that people, whether they’re constituents or board members, can’t look at the district as a whole. We are elected by area, but we were elected to serve the whole district,” she said.

“I thought things were looking up, but apparently they’re not.”

Pelham said the district map that was approved does a disservice to residents who will lose one of the directors they previously voted for.

Rouse, who did not attend the June 28 meeting because she was ill with COVID-19, called to request a July 12 meeting to consider whether there had been a violation of Brown’s Law, and called for more meetings to address board member ethics and behavior.

“I am shocked and disappointed by the deliberate plan to exclude specific individuals from community representation on the board,” Rouse said in an email.

Washington said it hoped the issue would lead to more transparency.

“It’s a matter of voting rights,” she said. “And it’s a matter of what should be a public record and what’s going on behind the scenes in private that shouldn’t be happening.”

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