Columbia School Board of Trustees should be replaced
Union Democrat staff /
Shame on the Columbia Elementary School District Board of Trustees.
In an increasingly common show of contempt for the good of students and constituents, trustees in a single hour-long meeting last Tuesday failed to address the biggest issue on campus - Superintendent John Pendley's son sexually exploiting a student in a classroom - and even approved a policy that will compromise the safety of students in the misguided belief the district can revise history to save face.
Who exactly do these people represent?
It's not the community at large.
Trustees have shown an unwavering loyalty to Superintendent John
Pendley to the extent they have declined to discuss what happened on
campus publicly, have fought tooth and nail to hide public records, and
have snubbed questions raised by the public about what exactly is
happening on campus - specifically, will anyone be punished and will
any policies to prevent such abuse be adopted?
No. Instead, Tuesday's meeting was conducted in a manner designed to avoid the public's participation.
At least a few audience members were dumbfounded when they were
asked by President Laura Phelan to identify themselves, and that was
the extent of the input invited.
Phelan opened and closed the meeting's "public comment" portion faster than you can say "public comment."
Do the trustees represent the students?
Trustees adopted a policy Tuesday that says the district will no
longer require teaching aides, before starting their jobs, to have
CPR/first-aid training and a passing score on an academic proficiency
test. Brennan Pendley, hired as an aide with his father's help, lacked
both and, to the consternation of some district officials, this
newspaper brought that to the public's attention.
Thanks to this new policy, parents (including those in the PTA,
many of whom have thrown their support behind John Pendley) should pray
no child has an asthma attack, chokes, or suffers any other immediate
medical emergencies in an after-school classroom.
Beyond that, they should hope their kids won't need homework help
from someone who has no demonstrated competence in basic math and
Then there's the matter of the abuse victim, an apparently troubled 15-year-old girl.
Not one trustee has spoken on her behalf. President Phelan, in
fact, even had the audacity to defend Brennan Pendley in a letter to
Judge James Boscoe urging leniency in sentencing.
If school trustees derive their power by representing the interests
of the public and students, as the California School Boards Association
suggests, then this board lacks the mandate and moral authority to
For the good of the community, and kids, they need to resign.
Either that, or voters need to strip them of their authority in the