Hayward school board president tells obtrusive city council to ‘stay in your lane’

Hayward school board President Lisa Brunner
scolded the City Council Tuesday night.

HAYWARD | Relations between the Hayward City Council and its school board has been sour for years, but recent contentiousness between the two government bodies spilled out in public view Tuesday night.

Hayward school board President Lisa Brunner ripped some Hayward City Council members for publicly interfering in the school district’s matters, namely the strong support offered in recent months by some councilmembers for a political action committee set on defeating a majority of the school board this November.

“Stay in your lane. You were elected to manage the city,” said Brunner, She scolded the city council on numerous occasions during the public comment period at Tuesday night’s meeting. Brunner said she was speaking as a resident and not as a school board member.

“I support the police chief, and I like her as a person,” Brunner said of Hayward Police Chief Diane Stuart, currently on administrative leave for unspecified reasons. “However, like the rest of my board members, I don’t plan on starting a PAC or joining a PAC to bring her back. I respect the process and I respect the position of other elected officials, unlike all of you sitting up there.”

Brunner, though, excluded Councilmember Marvin Peixoto, who has mostly stayed out of the debate over the embattled Hayward Superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs, who was placed on leave by the school board in June while an investigation runs its course over alleged misconduct. Peixoto nodded affirmatively after Brunner acknowledged his neutrality.

However, the rest of the council appeared to sit in quiet anger as Brunner also lambasted their handling of other city matters, primarily the city budget and its past treatment of public employees. Councilmember Al Mendall peered at Brunner while standing tense and Mayor Barbara Halliday shuddered when Brunner used the word “corruption” while referring to Hayward.

Brunner also tore into Councilmember Sara Lamnin, who has taken a lead in organizing the group of faith and business leaders advocating for Dobbs to keep his job. Pending a forthcoming report on Dobbs’ action, he could be terminated by the school board as early as this week. Brunner is not up for re-election until 2018.

“I got the impression that Ms. Lamnin doesn’t read,” said Brunner in an attempt to compare and contrast the city and school board’s most recent budgets. Brunner then claimed the school board has doubled its reserves, while the city’s treasury languishes under the council’s direction.

“Your own budgets say that the city reserves will be completely depleted in 2019, at the rate you’re going,” said Brunner. “Every year you have borrowed against it. You’re below your emergency reserve level and you claim you have a balanced budget. You have done it by imposing employees.” Brunner added the city budget would have been “further in the hole,” if not for a number of recently approved tax measures.

The Hayward Unified School District, though, has not been without its own fiscal problems over the years, but in the past, criticism from public officials in the city was muted with the realization a certain degree of autonomy exists between the two elected bodies.

Former Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney was often the most vocal critic of the Hayward school district, but his comments were mostly political rhetoric that fell short of advocating and forming a grassroots apparatus for fomenting change on the school board. Sweeney, however, is also part of the PAC seeking to save Dobbs’ job, along with the campaign to elect a slate of three handpicked school board candidates.

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