Monday, October 22, 2012

Did the Capistrano Unified School District Violate Public Disclosure Laws During the 2012- 2013 Collective Bargaining Process?

Public Disclosure laws are intended to ensure that the "Public be informed of the issues that are being negotiated upon and have full opportunity to express their views on the issues to the public school employer, and to know of the positions of their elected representatives." (see California Government Code Section 3547)

During tough economic times; when the interests of employee groups are at odds with those of the students, district finances and the collective bargaining process take on special importance.

Should the decision of how cuts are made really be negotiated behind closed doors?  As a parent, I say no. Our children will have one opportunity to attain the skills necessary to compete with their piers in the rest of the world. Children in the Capistrano Unified School District will have to graduate and compete with students from around the world. How are our children going to compete when they have less days in school, less instructional minutes per day, larger class sizes and minimal programming? The answer is they cannot.

When disclosure laws are complied with, interested parents have an opportunity to influence Trustees (the adults at the collective bargaining table who were elected to represent the interests of students). When disclosure laws are not complied with, what is left is a group of adults conspiring to maximizing employee compensation with no regard to how that affects the education of children in the district. The 2012-2013 Budget and Employee Contracts that Trustees approved on June 27th, 2012 are so one sided, that I made a formal request to the Orange County District Attorney to review the collective bargaining process to see if the Capistrano Unified School District complied with public disclosure laws. The following is a time line that follows the CUSD collective bargaining process and compares that to the requirements of California Government Code Section 3547.

It should be noted that California Government Code Section 3547(d) states that: "New subjects of meeting and negotiating arising after the presentation of initial proposals shall be made public within 24 hours. If a vote is taken on such subject by the public school employer, the vote thereon by each member voting shall also be made public within 24 hours. "

The June 5th CUEA Bargaining Up-date references negotiation up-dates for May 25th, 2012 and May 31st 2012 that were never made public by the Capistrano Unified School District. To date the MOU's from the Tentative Agreement between CUSD and CUEA approved on June 12, 2012  have never been made public?
In response to a request for public records, the District provided a list of "over 25 budget presentations to employee organization leaders, staff members, parents and the public." which was suppose to document the public's involvement in the collective bargaining process. Only three of the listed meetings were open to the public. Except for regularly scheduled board meetings all the Public could only participate in three of the presentations- all of the rest were presentations to employee groups or in private meetings not open to the public- see below:

1 comment:

  1. Dawn,

    This is some great stuff. Your research is impressive and it calls into question the validity of the whole negotiation process. It is critical that CUSD do better if it is to extricate itself from the financial bind we are in this year.