Of course you remember The Accelerated Schools! That white savior charter conspiracy out in the 90037? And how a couple days ago we served them with a lawsuit seeking to compel their compliance with the California Public Records Act? And yesterday I sent them a letter demanding that they unconditionally commit to never any more requiring members of the public sign in to their damn meetings, that practice being totally and utterly illegal under the Brown Act?
And maybe you recall also how that whole sign-in thing was not the only Brown Act violating practice that these privatizers habitually indulge in? In fact, on October 24, 2019 they violated the law by holding two distinct secret meetings, neither of which was agendized and for neither of which they allowed public comment. So since evidently this is what we’re doing around here this week, today I sent them yet another demand letter regarding these grave violations of the law.
As with yesterday’s letter, today’s includes a demand that they unconditionally cease, desist, never do no more again, and so on, these violations. But also there’s a demand that they rescind these illegal decisions, reconvene the meetings, and do them over again legally. This would require them to announce whatever it is they’re going to consider, allow public comment, and then vote in public. This is an aspect of the Brown Act that I have not used before, so it will be interesting to see what happens! And, as always, read on for a transcription of the letter.
December 19, 2019
To whom it may concern:
I am writing to you to demand that The Accelerated Schools (“TAS”) cease and desist from violating the Brown Act as described below and to request that, in order to avoid costly and unnecessary litigation, you respond per the Brown Act at California Government Code §54960.2 with an unconditional commitment to so cease and desist. I further demand that, in order to avoid costly and unnecessary litigation, TAS cure and correct its violations of the Brown Act as described below per §54960.1
1. Charter schools in California are private entities made subject to the Brown Act by state law and, for those authorised by the Los Angeles Unified School District, by the terms of their charter.
II. Violations of the Brown Act on October 24, 2019
2.1 The facts
2. The Board of Directors of TAS (“Board”) held a regular public meeting on October 24, 2019.
3. On two separate occasions during this meeting Board president Juli Quinn announced a “recess.”
4. During these “recesses” the Board went all together into the back along with some staff members and at least two members of the public who were attending the meeting.
5. On the Board’s return to the public area Quinn uttered statements which made it very clear that the Board had discussed business during these “recesses.” In one case Quinn announced a decision that the Board had made, which was to reopen the ordinary public comment portion of the meeting.
6. Neither “recess” was announced on the published agenda for the meeting.
7. Neither “recess” allowed for public comment on the matters discussed during the recess.
2.2 The law
8. The Brown Act at §54952.2(a) defines a “meeting” to be any congregation of a majority of the members of a legislative body at the same time and location, including teleconference location as permitted by Section 54953, to hear, discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.
9. The Brown Act at §54953 declares that All meetings of the legislative body of a local agency shall be open and public, and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting of the legislative body of a local agency, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.
10. The Brown Act at §54954.2(a)(3) states in pertinent part that at a meeting subject to the Brown Act:
No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not appearing on the posted agenda.
11. The Brown Act at §54954.3(a) states in pertinent part that:
Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative bodys consideration of the item, that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body
12. The Board, being subject to the Brown Act, is a legislative body of a local agency.
13. The two occasions on October 24, 2019 on which the Board removed itself from the public view in order to discuss items “within the subject matter jurisdiction” of the Board were meetings as defined.
14. These meetings were neither open nor public, nor were they of the sort “as otherwise provided” by the Brown Act.
15. The Board violated the Brown Act by holding these two meetings out of the presence of the public.
16. The Board violated the Brown Act by discussing and/or taking action on matters not listed in the agenda for the meeting.
17. The Board violated the Brown Act by not allowing public comment on the matters discussed in these two illegal meetings.
III. The harm done
18. These violations are not just incidental, technical, nor harmless. Rather, they implicate fundamental constitutional rights that the people of California have reserved to themselves. The Brown Act at §54950 states:
In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.
The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.
19. By holding meetings in private the Board deprived members of the public of their fundamental right to be present during the deliberations of a body created by the public to carry out the public’s business and therefore of their fundamental right to retain control over the activities of the public instrument known as TAS
20. By discussing matters which did not appear on the posted agenda for the meeting the Board deprived members of the public of their right to make an informed decision as to whether to attend the meeting and address the Board concerning the matters on which they acted.
21. By failing to provide an opportunity for members of the public to address the Board before holding private meetings the Board deprived the public of their fundamental right to instruct their public servants on the actions they ought to take with respect to matters of public concern.
IV. Demand for relief
22. TAS’s failure to comply with the requirements of the Brown Act constitute a grave betrayal of both fundamental and consequential principles of our government. It is therefore in the best interest of all concerned that the school not only cease and desist from such violations in the future but that they make a public commitment to ceasing and desisting.
23. Because TAS’s failure to comply with the requirements of the Brown Act deprived members of the public the opportunity to know in advance what was to be discussed by the Board as well as the opportunity to comment publicly before action was taken and of the opportunity to observe and understand the deliberations of the Board, it is in the best interest of all concerned that the Board cure and correct this grave error.
24. At a minimum the Board should (a) rescind its decision to allow only 15 minutes of public comment during the legally compliant section of the meeting, (b) should agendize the topics discussed in the illegal parts of the meetings, and (c) reconvene the meeting in public, allowing for public comment on the topics being discussed as well as on the already-agendized topics.
25. If TAS responds to this demand within 30 days of today’s date by curing and correcting these violations and, additionally, with a letter expressing an unconditional commitment to cease and desist from all future violations of this type in substantially the form given by the Brown Act at §54960.2(c) I will consider this matter at an end. Please send this letter to me by email at ■■■■■■■■■@■■■■■■■■■.org and by postal mail at:
Los Angeles, CA 900■■
For the sake of efficiency please either confirm my receipt of this letter or send it in such a way that its arrival is trackable.
26. If TAS refuses to so respond or so responds after 30 days have passed I will instruct my attorneys to proceed to “commence an action by mandamus or injunction for the purpose of obtaining a judicial determination that [the above-described actions taken are] null and void” under §54960.1 of the Brown Act and, additionally, to “file an action to determine the applicability of this chapter to [the above-described] past actions of” The Accelerated Schools under §54960.2 of the Brown Act. If I prevail in that action the Brown Act at §54960.5 allows for the court to award costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees to me.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter,
Image of former TAS board boss Juli Quinn is ©2019 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and you could do worse in life than to click on this lil JQ over here.