Jul 29, 2014
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New Sweetwater Meeting Times May Stifle Public Participation, Critics Say

The school district may change its regular meeting time from 3:30 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. Critics say the move could quiet the voice of parents, students and the community at large.

New Sweetwater Meeting Times May Stifle Public Participation, Critics Say

Superintendent Ed Brand has recommended that the Sweetwater Union High School District start its monthly school board meetings as early as 2 p.m., according to the latest meeting agenda.

The school board will decide whether to adopt the superintendent's recommendation at its meeting Monday.

If approved, regular meetings would take place at 3:30 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. Closed-door meetings would begin at 2 p.m. instead 5 p.m.

See a copy of the revised bylaws attached here in PDF form.

Currently four of the five Sweetwater school board members face charges from the San Diego County District Attorney's Office ranging from bribery to perjury for their alleged role in "pay-to-play" politics.

Board members Pearl Quinones, Bertha Lopez, James Cartmill and Arlie Ricasa along with current and former Southwestern College, Sweetwater Union High School District and San Ysidro School District officials are scheduled to appear in court again Wednesday, according to the San Diego Superior Court docket.

Critics say an earlier meeting time will allow the district to conduct business with less public participation since teachers and people with full-time jobs would have to miss meetings. It may also reduce the pool of board member candidates to those without full-time jobs.

See this San Diego Reader story to read more

The move would allow the district to finish meetings on time without the need to disrupt district business if the board fails to rule on a matter because of an especially long meeting, said Director of the Grants and Communications Department Manuel Rubio.

"One of the things that they're looking at is if you look at over the last year, out of 12 meetings in 2012, the board only finished six," Rubio said.

Under the structure, general public comments would take place at end of meeting, Rubio said.

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