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Placentia-Yorba Linda School Board settles Orange County DA’s requests over potential Brown Act violations

Placentia-Yorba Linda School Board members got a lesson this week on the state’s open meeting law known as the Brown Act — a training the Orange County District Attorney’s office requested following an investigation related to the board.

In a study session on Tuesday, Sept. 13, Todd Robbins, an attorney for the school district, offered board members a run-through on certain aspects of the Brown Act, particularly as it pertains to special and emergency meetings as well as rules that allow for members to participate via teleconference versus in person.

The training, along with a related resolution adopted by the majority of the board, satisfies requirements set by the DA’s office, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

“The OCDA believes that the Board voting to pass the resolution satisfies both the OCDA requests and cures the Brown Act violations,” spokeswoman Kimberly Edds said in an email.

In June, the DA’s office sent a letter to the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District asking officials to address potential violations by Trustees Leandra Blades and Shawn Youngblood.

At the time, the office was looking into a complaint against School Board President Carrie Buck for shutting down a couple of board meetings because attendees were not wearing face masks. Buck did not violate the Brown Act, the DA’s office concluded. But in researching that complaint, officials found that Blades and Youngblood may have committed other Brown Act violations.

In June, the DA’s office asked the board to officially strike from the record a discussion initiated by Blades during a February meeting where she sought to add an emergency measure that was not posted on the agenda.

In addition, the letter asked that Youngblood  “acknowledge that his driving” during that same Feb. 2 meeting “was a violation of the notice and meeting requirements of the Brown Act,” and his comments during that time be stricken from the record. Youngblood had been teleconferencing from a Texas hotel, and at one point said he was driving, according to a video of the meeting.

In the letter, the DA’s office also asked the district to provide board members with additional resources or training on the Brown Act.

On Aug. 9, the school board voted 3-0 to pass a resolution to “address and remedy” those potential violations. Blades and Youngblood abstained.

During the Tuesday night training, Youngblood was absent.

Youngblood could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Buck said Youngblood, a firefighter in Downey, was called into work but will receive the same information during a meeting with the district’s superintendent.

“Having the training with or without him cures the violation along with the resolution from last month’s meeting,” Buck said late Tuesday.

Edds, the spokeswoman for the DA’s office, agreed. The resolution satisfies the office’s request and cures potential Brown Act violations, she said.

Blade’s and Youngblood’s “abstention from the vote is not a criminal violation or a further Brown Act violation, and Youngblood’s absence from the recommended training is not subject to criminal penalties,” Edds said.

The subject has been a hot-button topic among some in the district, where parents are divided. Some are still miffed with Buck for shutting down a couple of meetings after audience members refused to wear regular face masks at a time when the state was mandating such coverings indoors. Others are upset with Blades and Youngblood for not supporting the resolution passed by their colleagues while also pushing a conservative agenda on culture war topics, including gender issues and sex education.

The next School Board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 11.

Source: Orange County Register

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