LANCASTER — A split Antelope Valley Union High School District governing Board voted to direct Harris & Associates to cease work toward advance-qualifying third-party investigation/
consultancy firms to review alleged discrimination and disparate treatment in student suspensions and expulsions, and in the District’s hiring and promotional practices.
Board President Robert “Bob” Davis joined trustees Jill McGrady and John Rush to vote in favor of the two recommendations at the Friday morning meeting. Vice President Victoria Ruffin and Clerk Amanda Parrell voted no.
“By suspending this effort, we are not addressing the root causes of what brought us here,” Ruffin said.
Ruffin added she is greatly concerned about an adequate resolution or equity plan to address the matters.
“I am concerned that we will continue to offer lip service and to create a strategic plan to measure our efforts over the next four years to move this veto in the right direction — because we have the same players, the same good ol’ boys, who have invested almost two decades in ignoring these issues,” Ruffin said.
Superintendent David Vierra, at the start of Friday’s meeting, referenced the joint statement he and Davis released prior to the Board’s May 22 meeting — in that the outside investigations by Harris would not be conducted. In addition, that the District would review its current disciplinary and student support programs, as well as the selection/hiring procedures.
Vierra and Davis had further discussions prior to Friday’s meeting. From that meeting, Vierra announced the District would establish a district community advisory committee.
The overall establishment and community member composition of the committee has yet to be determined. It will most likely include a representative from each Board member,” Vierra said.
“These steps are a collaborative effort to work through current Board governance circumstances in order to provide the best education for our students,” Vierra said.
Davis said they agreed to ask each Board member to choose one community member of their choice to create an advisory Board to look into various District issues.
Ruffin expressed suspicion about the proposed move.
“Our district needs to move forward with all transparency,” Ruffin said.
Davis said in the best interest of the District, the community, and in saving the District additional funds, he recommended a blue panel advisory Board instead of the investigations to look into several District issues including suspensions and expulsions, hiring and safety practices, as well as any issues the community and District may deem necessary to review.
“And as with any review, it would be to understand the why of issues, and then work together to create those solutions to move this District forward,” Davis said.
Student trustee Noah Sveiven thanked Davis for the comments.
“I think this agenda item is a meaningful and prudent adjustment if it indeed does occur,” Sveiven said.