Member Dunn censured at Conejo Valley Unified School District board meeting 2-6-18

By George Miller

CVUSD Board Member Mike Dunn

Dunn unanimously censured

We were told that there would be a big crowd at this week’s Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) board meeting, to address the attempted censure of board member Mike Dunn. There was, but not as large as the 11-14-17 meeting when the new new book selection policy was passed. The censure agenda item was initiated by member Betsy Connolly. The proximate cause was an objectionable  communication by Dunn to the employer of a partisan blogger who opposes his position supporting the new book selection policy. Rather than summarizing that here, we suggest that you read volumes on the policy debate in past articles in this publication and other local media. Dunn’s memo was triggered by the blogger’s comments at the 1-23-18 meeting (at 12:08) and many previous incidents.

Board President John Andersen first read a letter from member Mike Dunn saying that he declined to attend the meeting, that his wife had advised him to do so. He further wrote: “The attacks against me have crossed the line. The attacks have hurt me and my wife. That said, I should have ignored the attacks and not responded.” He took considerable heat for not showing up.

Protesters were outside with signs, purple shirts and bullhorns. A line formed and venue tickets were issued, which made it a little more organized than past large meetings. We asked in advance why it couldn’t be moved to a larger venue, but received no response.

It seemed as though the parental opt-out policy was just as objectionable to a majority there as Dunn’s alleged behavior and was a key subtext to much of what went on. Book policy opponents were looking for a way to get Dunn and he provided it.

Find meeting agenda

 

Public Comment  (more on the censure agenda item further below). Below is a quick summary of general public comments. Watch the meeting video for specifics).

Andersen read a summary of public comment rules, then later mentioned that not following some guidelines could in some cases result in legal action. Most comments were highly critical of Dunn’s behavior, some over the top (and unchallenged by Board President Andersen) not just for the infamous email and press release, but for previous incidents and against the parental control opt-out policy in general. Some also pilloried him for not showing up. The speakers tried to claim that their majority at meetings indicates that the majority of the public is with them. Board members and others have previously mentioned the large majorities that the board majority won by,

 

Cindy Goldberg- Thanks for meeting decorum. Recent events disheartening. Fantastic Supt/team. Need you (Board) to play your part.  Other priorities beckon, but board member censure is on agenda. First Amendment rights line was crossed. Dysfunctional divisiveness.

Jesse Weihe at 2-6-18 board meeting

Heather ?- Appreciate Dunn’s service as a first-responder. courage, integrity and pride., But contacting employer with attempt to silence her is not showing those characteristics? He put more effort into silencing than reading “Part time Indian” (oneof the books in contention), Used unethical and embarrassing means to silence your opponents, Sending Email to employer is threatening.. It’s always been about you, not the public.

Angie Simpson- On citizens oversight committee. Spoke on Measure I- unrelated. Wants tool. HVAC system $7MM needed

Jessie Weihe (the blogger in question- target of Dunn  message)- Recited a poem mocking Dunn. Prolonged standing ovation..

Nelson Busse- (pic) People are going to come for. My wife and I have been disparaged. People may say things not necessarily. True that you (Board) have no control over. Mike Dunn. He was insinuating about me, checking my past, suggesting  that I have a criminal letter. Disappointed Dunn not here to answer that. Boar seems more interested in expressing pinions and polarizing community ..

Jennifer Reed-  Teacher. Some students brought home half-baked opt-in or opt-out letters- Not sure which., Opt out was already in place. absurd for highly quality teachers to do, Board unqualified but arrogant to do so, Why need sign off? I reached out to all board mebers for clarification. Dunn letter- cyberbullying. Everett and Lictal responded too little too late.

Ashley Huizenga- Let parents parent- advocate for rights of parents- Thanks to Everett, Andersen, Dunn for supporting families thru school policies. Opt-out very relevant to me.  Grateful to have this choice- stand behind board efforts. Empowers parents.

Amy- Love new syllabus which resulted from new policy. What’s so bad about parental choice. Know books and CDE notation., Sincere than to board who voted. Val;ances community, board, teachers,.  Opposition thinks bad idea to inform parents. Saw recent “asterisked” book and approved. No censorship and banning, Sky did not fall. Thanks for trusting parents adv parental rights

Mary Locke- Mr Dunn’s time here is up. Former librarian and titoar., District censoring materials. Attempt to align materials most closely to religious beliefs, et, dressed up as desire to protect children’s innocence,.  Must not dictate public policy. Board m,ember’s written message threatening individuals,

Dave Hanson- Did not speak.

Wendy Goldstein- Blatant attempt to control and censor school dist. You did not move this meetings to larger venue.- had plenty of time. Public discussion rules designed to protect board, not public. Board chose not to make a public statement. Dunn’s letter was a campaign stunt speech. Not one of you responded to me except Connolly. Mr. Dunn threatened constituent to get her fired.

Kyle Rohrbach- District lost its way in upholding core values of The Conejo Way. Contrasted with a student legislative exercise unfavorably. Andersen’s silence most disturbing- censure Mr. Dunn.

Scott Harris

Bill Gorbeck- We teach 1st Amendment freedom of speech, religion, assembly. Dunn tried to deny to Weihe. Tried to silence via writing to employer- reprehensible. Harris supported her. Board for too long challenged LGBT education, restricting which state tests teachers could use., Brought negative national attention to district. Censure- thanked Connolly. Board should end complicity with Dunn’s behavior.

Katherine Nolan-  Attack on Mike Dunn is a witch hunt to oust him from board. Note was cherry picked. Dunn said slander and libel not free speech. Why not parties work it out?  So glad Mustang Marketing not working for board any more. Mustang Marketing should not be emulated.

Scott Harris (Mustang Marketing)- Mike chose not to show up- reflected on his character. You’re afraid to show up, couldn’t get your wife’s permission to attend. Threaten employees, private citizens., Cower in living room. Your seat is empty as is your character. Got this offensive, threatening email out of the blue,

Doel Mancuso- Following this issue for a long time. Heard divisive language vs language of discussion. Dialogue.

Mandy Jacobs- Thanks board for thankless efforts and tolerant behavior to those going around-name calling, dysfunctional divisiveness, victimization. Jacobs took issue with audience member mocking her. Look at what this board has done- trailblazing. Meanwhile Acorn says house prices going down (because of it)- can’t figure out the economics in this.

Maya Torrey- Student Journalist- Poem based on Dunn email- Mike Dunn’s eternity far more important than district’s eternity. Can’t understand Mike’s logic on why discrimination is fair. Called my advisor a secular humanist- all we do is progate LGBT rights. Reported on books deemed obscene. Committee should be teachers. Hope that tonight First Amendment comes first. Standing ovation.

Diane McKay

David Busse- School board members must be at forefront of ethical boundaries, remove personal agenda, etc. Ethical board needed for ethical schools.  Not Board’s responsibility to contact employer to stop free speech- not right for board member to contact board candidate to asked questions.

Matthew Lavender- Good friend Scott Harris being attacked by board member. Here to support Harris, Weihe. Elected official bullied prestigious local businessman. Illegal, immoral. Should be removed immediately

Diane Mc Kay (Mustang Marketing?)- Offense Needs action., Community College Board (she’s on it) has procedures for dealing with this. Must follow best practices, Silence from the board was deafening., Docs here for board to commit to profl development.

Amie Giandelo- Concerned citizen picketing. Dunn told her not to mention any names., He came to the defense of a woman notorious for spending all time picking on schools. That one email violated at least 5 of  your bylaws. Put his needs of religious beliefs, own agenda, over ours. Distractions, time wasted. Andersen and Everett silent- speaks volumes. You have the power to stop him- censure Dunn.

Stuart Ackerman- Trustee title only bestowed on those we trust to act in Community interest. “I heard a rumor”: Dunn acting in his own interest; Used position to intimidate community members who disagree with his bizarre views. Made it about religion. His own needs over majority. anger over having auth questioned. I believe he should step down. Bully, theocrat, petty authoritarian. Is that slinging mud? No, just passion.

Nick Quidway-  – Lady Chatterley’s Lover was required reading for him. Vulgarity doesn’t belong in high school,  NOT censorship to do this. Hasn’t received callback from Dunn. Upset w/board and admin not welcoming to parents or giving enough time. My employer was contacted anon in 1994- didn’t work then either.  Being in power does that to people.

Laura- Thanks Mustang for purple shirt. Nonsense attack on Jess Weihe, Mustang, Busse. Mocked parent group demonstrating- says one has crazy people on it, claiming they are persecuted. Pandering to one group not the majority. Reading out of context passages from book no on teaches. Used N word with glee all over your faces (referring to past meeting speakers).

Kelly Henertema- Spoke for Chuck Cohen: Mr Harris is exemplary citizen and virtuous businessman. Protested Dunn message. Lack of self control in face of protest and violation of constitutional underpinnings. For censuring trustee Dunn.

Jane Germane- Didn’t come here to mock you. Here on behalf of parental choice. Not sure why everyone is afraid of parental choice. Opt-out issue spun out of control. Let’s just get over ourselves and do what is right for children. Young  lady previous speaker said teachers know better than parents.

Bruce Boyer- His mother, grandmother teachers. They deferred to parents, said mother. Urge every school board to defer to parents. We can’t all agree on standards.  Support school choice- curriculum you want in school you want, not going to agree on how to raise our children.

Nathanial- What is a leader: promote agenda of slander- violate same rules he puts in place? Leader should sacrifice his agenda for interests of people. a leader in virtuous practices, sacrifices self, not back down when integrity is called into question. Try to change himself to people’s viewpoint. Suggested Dunn should cease his leadership.

See censure item further below.

Board members comments- 

Phelps- UREPT Council. County Sch Bds Assoc. presentation on Thomas Fire

Connolly- Had public comment rules for 3 years, not ad hoc.

Andersen- Also went to CSBA event.  Biggest untold story about the district- planning- Need to get back into it, 1st meeting 1/9/18 and 1/29/18.  Will revisit board protocols. Not revisited those, bylaws or had planning session in 3 years. First presentation “not quite there,” second excellent. Baseline activities, budget and future priorities.

 

Supt. Comments-

Tx to Hyonchin Im-Turner and admins, Principals and more. Controversial items overtake what teachers are doing in classrooms.

 

 

Some other meeting items-

4.1 Approval of Title I School-Level Parent Involvement Policies for Acacia, Conejo, Glenwood, Ladera and Walnut

Phelps- every plan for every school almost identical.  There will be no next year for me (on board))

Approved 4-0

4.2 Neighborhoods for Learning/City Center Program – Reorganization of Market Rate Programs

Connolly sorry to see restructuring, District not able to dedicate attention to it or not in our skillset. Hope we can redirect eforstv to remaining programs

Approved 4-0

5.1 Approval of the Memorandum of Agreement with Educational Television for the Conejo for 2017-18

Approved 4-0

5.2 Approval to Submit a Request for Allowance of Attendance Because of Emergency Conditions

Approved 4-0

Consent agenda was approved

 

6.1 Approval of Resolution Regarding Censure of Board Member Mike Dunn

Resolution From agenda:

ISSUE:

Should the Board of Education adopt a resolution censuring Board member Dunn for his violation of Board Bylaws and his failure to follow good governance standards as demonstrated by his unacceptable, unprofessional conduct toward a member of this community and her employer? 

BACKGROUND:

During the January 23rd Board meeting, a community member offered criticism of Board member decisions during her public comments.  Mr. Dunn contacted the community member’s employer, stating that if there were further attempts to speak critically at future board meetings, member Dunn would follow her public comments by announcing the name of her employer accompanied by his assertion that the business owner supports her opinions. This clear attempt to suppress criticism from a member of the public by creating potentially adverse consequences for the speaker and her employer is unacceptable and inconsistent with the values of this Board.   

ALTERNATIVES:

  1. Adopt the attached resolution censuring Board member Dunn
  2. Adopt the attached resolution censuring Board member Dunn as amended
  3. Do not adopt the attached resolution

RECOMMENDATION:

Alternative #1

RATIONALE:

Mr. Dunn’s conduct reflects poorly on the school Board and on the CVUSD as a whole. The Board desires, through the adoption of this resolution, to communicate to the residents of this district our intention to respect and uphold the rights of all citizens to exercise their free speech rights during public comments even, or especially, if that speech is critical of the actions and decisions of Board members. 

Respectfully submitted,

Dr. Betsy Connolly

Clerk

Board of Education

 

Mike Dunn and others said that Connolly had missated his words which were to call them out if Weihe further slandered/libeled him.

 

Public comment on item 6.1 (more is in items not on agenda comments above)

Rock Cappobianco= When School Site chair Dunn invited him to his home, he disclosed confidential closed session info- wanted to make public. Wanted to embarrass (former Supt) Barstaad. Dunn ran circus attacks on some officials and public members. Questioned structure, operation and standing of council.

Laurie Jacobs- didn’t speak.

Janie Alberg- ACLU letter addressed to board- Writing on behalf of Weihe. Uphold rights of all citizens during public comments.  Statement cannot constitute defamation- privileged communication. Principle: debate on public issue should be uninhibited..

Scott Harris- Censure critically important decision. Oppty for board to support constituents or not. Would be powerful message to community that you will not allow the board to continue. Stop fear of retaliation.

Mark Deniokos- Events of previous week reprehensible, awakened me from slumber, Dunn unreachable, bizarre. Address Andersen and Everett who vote with him vast majority of the time., Promised Haris to write to board president and speak at meeting. His (Dunn’s) vote is so valuable, that it somehow justifies all of this. Hope you will agree he has crossed the line.

Bonnie Goldenberg- Want censure. May not politically happen, Better To take him and explain how he offended. Criticism comes with territory.  Even if not censured.

Barbara Andrews- Recent actions of board members have put a dark cloud on district. Instead of ridiculous literature policies, highlight teacher achievements. Andersen has remained silent over loathsome conduct of Mr. Dunn. S/B censured, resign.

Jenny Fitzgerald- Mr Dunn you are the one individual who should be here tonight. Re: ACLU letter. As someone educated in law, I urge you not do do so. Case law conflicts with your claims. 1st Amendment rights. Pub apology. Officials have high std of proof for defamation. Inaction of fellow board members who failed to demonstrate good gobv. Threaten liability of public members. Statements demonstrate that court community is ready for change.

Clara Fitello- Focus should be on district achievements., Board s/b responsible., Should be no one afraid to speak out at board meeting, If afraid to come to meeting,perhaps should not be in that position.,

 

Board Comments

Betsy Connnolly- People suggest that code of ethics, bylaws would protect this board from consequences of this man, then you don’t know this man., He respects none of these. Initially, Dun was a minority of one. We handled it with a shrug and an eyeroll and went about business. Dunn got stronger when Andersen joined the board- a little more ruckus and a little more noise. When Ms Everett joined, Dunn was made president over my objections-  a monster was unleashed. His lashing out at the community was a result of that. Only one way before 11-6 to take care of this problem. They let him misbehave w/no comment, orchestrate bizarre reordering of agenda to promote their political aims. Process of board falls apart. Andersen, Everett, acknowledge your role in unleashing him. Only the two of you can make it stop.  He will become the eyeroll and shrug he once was and we will move on to good governance,.

Re: resolution- Felt the whole board owed the community an explanation for what was going on, plus Jess Weihe and Harris and others afraid to come forward on how they have been treated, Don’t allow him to misbehave so we can get back to work.,

 

She is not trying to censure- but destroy Dunn.

Everett- Always thought that conversations could take place in private. Will not criticize fellow board member, including Connolly. My vote tonight is about character,  principle, integrity. When a public official chooses to engage in behavior unbecoming, that official is condoning the behavior. I have to uphold the highest standards.

Phelps- Thanks to Connolly for taking the lead in it. I’ve become part of the eyerolling and shrugging group, We have censured him, trained, had attys. talk to him, before- had no effect. Should have done this last November when he overrode opinion of committee.

Andersen- Person could never truly apologize for the offenses of another,. When something under my watch goes wrong, I apologize. I apologize for what was caused by Mr. Dunn’s emails. I hold myself to a high standard of personal conduct and avoid social media. We have success as board and its schools and when we work together for the board and community. Private conversations need to stay private. Protocol says President is to address board member one on one when behavior out of bounds. Protocols address conduct of board. Want to update protocols and commitment to following them.

There has been an increasing amount of vitriol and bullying directed at board members. Would like to caution folks that it drags down the reputation of district. Look at your own heart and determine if your actions are appropriate, Kids learn from what we do., Board must rise above political theater, conduct itself with dignity. I don’t like criticizing fellow members in public. Dunn is not the only one in question. The Emails don’t meet high stds. and I will be voting yes.

Connolly- Also said she has a Powerpoint with backup, but decided not to show it, as she could see that the board didn’t need it and was with her.

Censure approved 4-0

 

You can read our LAST ARTICLE on the book selection issue, which links to quite a few others.

 

Not the first time:

School board votes to censure trustee Mike Dunn

 

 

George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.


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3 Responses to Member Dunn censured at Conejo Valley Unified School District board meeting 2-6-18

  1. Not so anonymous Mommy February 7, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    #draintheswamp

    Reply
  2. Barry Gabrielson February 7, 2018 at 8:04 am

    This is right out of the Book, Animal Farm, by George Orwell. Who is Napoleon, Snowball, the attack dogs, etc. Who on the school board planned this war on a Conservative voice on this school board, had meetings with Unions, PTA, teachers, students, staff and others? This is all coordinated and planned by day one, from all sides, top down, bottom up and inside out. “Punch a Conservative” by coordinating with the partners in the press (Acorn, Star, Nextdoor), go to School Board meetings and attack, by using teachers and students, taught by teachers to slander this Conservative, unions coordinate protesters with signed outside and inside board rooms, have weekly/monthly meetings, working with teachers and PTA to tell them what to say at Board meetings, teachers working with indoctrinated students, write down speeches for them to attack this Conservative on the Board, etc. What is the purpose of these daily attacks? To set a trap, knowing that this Conservative, one day, would fight back to defend himself, his character, his school district, his community, etc. So when this Conservatives defends himself, in any way, they can put him under a microscope and silence him, then remove him from the Board, so they become the majority again, or to remove him in Nov 2018. People who consistently attack him from all sides are the good guys, their inappropriate and planned behavior gets a free pass. They are the judge and jury, the victim needs to be silenced. Their orchestrated plan is working, all coordinated by Napoleon and the dogs, to get Snowball to run away and hide. These attack dogs are the unions, teachers, parents, AM, her boss, far left parents and controlled indoctrinated children. Can you guess who has coordinated all this, from the beginning, who is Napoleon? One clue, this person resides on the School Board. Why is this being performed in our area? It sends a clear message, no moral Conservative is allowed on CVUSD School Board, far left has a strangle hold on this districts, it’s controlled by far left nihilist unions, teachers, parents and indoctrinated children, they make the rules here. This is a war on religious Conservatives.

    Reply
    • Guy Incognito February 8, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      Doesn’t the board in cvusd have a religious conservative majority?

      Reply

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