LANCASTER — Palmdale High School pupil services technician Anthony Hunt’s teaching career is on hold as Board members Victoria Ruffin and Amanda Parrell blocked Hunt’s effort to fill a special education teacher slot at his school.
Ruffin voted against a provisional internship permit for Hunt on Thursday night. Parrell abstained even though she had no appropriate reason to do so.
The permit failed on a 2-1-1 vote. Board Clerk Jill McGrady and trustee John Rush voted yes. Student trustee Elijah Johnson supported the permit.
The permit would have allowed Hunt to teach special education for the 2020-21 school year until he can pass the California Subject Examinations for Teachers to qualify for an intern program.
Ruffin and Parrell voted against Hunt’s permit at the July 23 meeting. Ruffin also rejected the permit at the June 11 meeting when Parrell was absent.
Hunt supported last year’s unsuccessful recall effort against Ruffin, Parrell and former member Robert “Bob” Davis.
Ruffin objected to having the permit on the Board agenda for a third time.
“It’s not properly agendized,” Ruffin said. “It’s procedurally improper. The losing party cannot put this back on the agenda, for the record.”
The proposed provisional internship permit for Hunt was actually a new permit. Hunt interviewed for the teaching position a second time with a different interview panel because it has gone unfilled.
Student trustee Johnson expressed hope that Hunt would prevail.
“The dissenting parties, Ms. Parrell and the member of Area 5, have ignored community and staff words and support of Anthony Hunt at our very own Board meetings,” Johnson said. “They’ve ignored students from Palmdale High School that I read to the Board at the July 23 meeting, and they have ignored the district’s vision to hire good teachers to help students achieve their goals.”
Johnson added: “Anthony Hunt is a hard-working AVUHSD employee that has been denied this PIP permit because of a personal vendetta that you hold against (him). It is shameful that you have denied his permit twice. However, I hope that this vote it different.”
McGrady added Hunt is an outstanding individual who has received exemplary reviews.
“We know who he is. We know he gets along with our students,” McGrady said.
Antelope Valley Teachers Association President Dan Shy spoke to Ruffin and Parrell near the start of the meeting, calling out their actions against minorities in the district. He appealed directly to Parrell to do the right thing.
“This is your opportunity, Ms. Parrell, to do what is right and cast the ever-important third vote and give this young man the career he has worked hard for,” Shy said. “We expect Ruffin to stay true to her flawed character. But you have a chance to be something decent, something right, and to separate yourself from the viciousness of Ruffin. Surprise us, Amanda, and do the right thing.”
Parrell punted. Parrell abstained.
McGrady explained Parrell could abstain only if she had some personal connection or did not have enough information.
“So how do you vote?” McGrady said.
“I abstain,” Parrell said.
“So you have a personal connection or you don’t have enough information?” McGrady said.
“It’s not a conflict,” Parrell said.
“Then you have to vote,” McGrady said.
Parrell did not respond. McGrady asked for Ruffin and Rush’s votes, then went back to Parrell, who again abstained.
“So once again it did not pass,” McGrady said. “Ms. Parrell voted with Dr. Ruffin in the sense that she knows with an abstention it will not count.”
Parrell later added: “I didn’t vote with Victoria Ruffin. I actually just abstained from the vote. I just want to put that for the record,” Parrell said.
“OK, but you do not have the right to abstain unless you have a connection to the person or you do not have enough information and I asked you that three times,” McGrady said.