Los Angeles County prosecutors are reviewing a complaint alleging that the Los Angeles Board of Education may have violated a state open-meetings law during its selection of a new superintendent, which the school district denies, it was reported Wednesday.
Former investment banker and philanthropist Austin Beutner started his post last week as leader of the nation*s second largest school district. The board announced their pick on May 1 after a months-long process of searching and narrowing the list of contenders.
“Our office has received the complaint and it is under review,” Greg Risling, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, said in an email Tuesday to the Los Angeles Daily News. Risling declined further comment.
The May 7 complaint by the East Area Progressive Democrats club to the D.A.’s Public Integrity Division alleged “substantial violations of the (state’s Ralph M.) Brown Act” involving a special Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education meeting last month. The letter, authored by the club’ communications director Mary Fischer, centers around an alleged secret vote that took place on April 20 during a closed-session agenda item for “personnel” issues at the meeting.
Contrary to Brown Act requirements, “board members never announced that the board had selected a candidate, the name of the candidate they selected, that a vote had occurred, the outcome of the vote, or how or whether each board member had voted in that decision in the April 20 closed meeting,” Fischer alleged in the complaint cited by the Daily News.
David R. Holmquist, LAUSD’s general counsel, said in a statement that the open-meetings law contains “detailed rules regarding what must be agendized and how, how action is to be taken, and what must be reported and how and when.
“The selection process complied with the Brown Act requirements,” Holmquist said through a spokeswoman, the Daily News reported.
The hiring of Beutner, who has no experience running a school or school district, has drawn fire from teacher’s union members and other advocates of traditional public schools. The majority of LAUSD board members are backed by charter school supporters.
The East Area Progressive Democrats, a club of more than 850 members focused on the greater East Side of Los Angeles, is asking the D.A.’s office to invalidate the board’s vote, the Daily News reported.