Updates from the SDUHSD Board

Public Comment

During the Oct. 26 regular board meeting, the board planned to debut a new meeting format, pushing public comments on non-agendized items to the end of open- session. However, after backlash from the public, the meeting format was returned to its previous order.

In the past, the public could comment toward the beginning of the meeting in three periods — for closed session, open- session and non-agenda topics.

The change in non-agendized comments was accompanied by more time per comment — two to three minutes; agendized comments also were moved to after a presentation on the given topic, a change in compliance with board policy, Board President Rimga Viskanta said.

However, multiple people voiced disapproval of the change to non-agenda comments, ultimately leading Viskanta to revert the format to the previous order for the remainder of the meeting.

“We want to respect what folks are used to,” she said.

Chief among community concerns was that non-agendized speakers would need to sign up to speak before the meeting and then wait two or more hours to speak.

However, at the next meeting on Nov. 14 when non-agenda comments were kept at the end of the meeting, Viskanta clarified that non-agendized speakers would be able to sign up at any time before the comment period. Trustee Phan Anderson spoke against the format change, voting nay on approving the agenda.

Moving forward, Viskanta said the board could “revisit” the format change.

School Bus Purchases

On Nov. 14, the board voted 3-2 to not replace three school buses with diesel fuel vehicles, against the district’s recommendation to purchase them before diesel vehicles will not be purchasable in California effective January 2024, as the state moves toward the goal of zero vehicle emissions by 2035.

Currently, the district has 17 buses used for extracurricular activities like field trips and athletics. Of those buses, 10 are more than 20 years old, which Tina Douglas — associate superintendent of Business Services at the time — said during the Nov. 14 meeting is a reliability concern. While four of the 10 buses will be replaced with zero-emission vehicles, the board discussion centered around what to do with the remaining three, whether to replace them or wait to purchase zero-emission buses.

Board President Rimga Viskanta recommended the district direct the funds that would be used for purchasing the new diesel buses to zero-emission infrastructure. However, with a bus driver shortage, concerns of the ability of zero-emission buses to drive long-distance and the cost of zero- emission vehicles being higher, this decision went against staff recommendation. Ultimately, the motion failed 3-2; Trustees Michael Allman and Phan Anderson supported.

JUUL Settlement

On Oct. 26, the board voted unanimously (with one member absent) to settle their class action lawsuit against JUUL, an electronic cigarette company.

The district was awarded a settlement of $125,821.

Back in March, the board advised their legal counsel to settle the suit against JUUL, which SDUHSD joined in 2020 to stand with school districts across the U.S. in alleging the company marketed to minors and disrupted learning environments.

The district has not yet received the money, but it will use it for preventative training and support for students, staff and the community, according to the Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Bryan Marcus.

Vaping has been an on-going discussion both at the district level and at TPHS. At TPHS, a vape sensor was piloted in a campus bathroom in January 2022. Multiple board discussions have centered around vaping in bathrooms; one notably regarded the prospect of parent volunteers being assigned to bathrooms to monitor and deter such activities. As of now, the board has not taken public action on a program of this sort.

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