HAYWARD SCHOOL BOARD | The quickly assembled special meeting last Tuesday called by the Hayward school board to discuss the contract of its interim superintendent may have been illegal.
“I do think we violated the Brown Act,” said Hayward school board president William McGee early Thursday morning following the unanimous approval of a 1-year, $229,500 contract for interim superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs.
Not only may the events leading up to the Tuesday special meeting have broken the state sunshine laws, but also the discussions inside the closed session meeting.
According to the Brown Act and the board’s own bylaws, special meetings may be called only by the board’s president. A majority of the board can also vote to hold such a meeting, but only during the course of previous regularly scheduled session. In this case, according to documents seen by The Citizen, the meeting was called by board member Lisa Brunner through its clerk. Subsequently, board members John Taylor and Annette Walker consented to the meeting. Under these circumstances, Brunner, in effect, called the meeting using the sole powers of the board president.
Furthermore, the Brown Act explicitly prohibits using special meetings for the business of discussion superintendent contracts, salary schedules and fringe benefits. It was previously reported the board indeed discussed the terms of Dobbs’ salary and agreed on a specific salary range. Terms of relocation expenses for Dobbs, who currently lives in the San Diego area, were also discussed during Tuesday’s closed session.
During Wednesday’s hearing to approve Dobbs’ contract, board member Dr. Luis Reynoso referenced the potential impropriety of the special meeting, saying with a tinge of dramatic exasperation, “We’re lawless.”
The reasoning behind disallowing elected officials from discussing contracts in special closed session is to protect the public from board members and council officials perceived to be negotiating in secret with taxpayers money.
The potential of violating the Brown Act, comes on the heels of an array of peculiar actions by certain board members, the business community, teachers union and Dobbs, himself. According to a source familiar with the events leading to Tuesday’s special meeting, Brunner reportedly first called the meeting last Friday during the late afternoon. It is believed the impetus for her action was an email from Dobbs unequivocally pulling out of consideration for the interim superintendent position. In the message, Dobbs claimed he was being harassed and deemed the potential work environment in Hayward too poisonous for him to succeed.
However, his reluctance to be considered for the job, according to sources, was never discussed by the board and by Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, his contract was unanimously approved.
Shane Bond contributed to this article.