The Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District is not broadcasting meetings in which their board of trustees makes decisions on the education of around 24,000 students, while some parents question if they’re hiding things.
But that could all change following pressure from not only parents, but Leandra Blades, a trustee who faced opposition from some and support from others in the district for her stances on various issues, including her opposition to ethnic studies courses.
When it comes to broadcasting meetings, her critics agree with her.
Meanwhile the Orange County’s Board of Supervisors, cities and some school districts are broadcasting meetings on their websites, on YouTube or are allowing people to attend on Zoom.
Some cities, like Santa Ana, also allow for call-in public comment so people don’t have to worry about potentially being exposed to the coronavirus.
Parents have been clamoring for video broadcasting and question what the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District has to hide.
Allen Zakharin said broadcasting meetings should be standard practice.
“Our community takes a lot of pride in this district and having the meetings broadcast — it’s just kind of a way to keep our parents engaged on what is happening in the district,” Zakharin said in a phone interview. “They need to be able to see what’s going on and what matters are coming across the board.”
He added that during the pandemic, the meetings should be broadcasted because the district is only letting a few people attend in-person, as well as to keep people safe.
“It seems like the reason to not broadcast these meetings is to keep things secret which doesn’t make sense, especially because of how easy it is,” Zakharin said.
Some parents have taken it upon themselves to broadcast the meetings on Facebook live, including former candidates who ran against Blades in the November election.
The board will hold a discussion on broadcasting school board meetings when they meet at 7:00 p.m. tonight.
This time, the public will be able to call-in to listen to the meeting by following the instructions listed on the agenda.
At the board’s meeting on Feb. 9, Blades called for live streaming to be put on the agenda of the panel’s March session.
“With all the emails we’ve been receiving, our community wants to have access to our meetings,” Blades said during the February meeting. “I know that we’ve been looking into it and whatnot, but let’s take a vote so we can either move forward or not move forward with it, but I think our community deserves an answer on that.”
Blades had also called on the district to start looking into broadcasting meetings when the board met in January.
“The district continues to research the best options to bring online access to Board Meetings to our community in the near future. Trustees’ input will continue to be a part of this process,” reads an email from district spokeswoman Alyssa Griffiths.
The district has been jumping back and forth from holding teleconference meetings to in-person meetings throughout the pandemic.
Trustees met telephonically at the beginning of the pandemic through June and then shifted back to in-person meetings only from July through November.
After that, the district started holding meetings by telephone due to a regional shutdown with the state urging residents to stay home.
Those orders were lifted on Jan. 25 and the board resumed in-person meetings last month.
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him @firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.