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Hold CCUSD School Board Members Accountable

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My husband and I chose to buy a house in Culver City 15 years ago because of the "highly respected schools" as that was and still is incredibly important for our family. We loved the small town feel in the middle of a massive County. Our realtor got us in to see this house, a foreclosure, within 30 minutes of it popping up on the MLS. She wrote a winning letter when there were other interested parties. We were so excited.

Fast forward to 2019-2020. Things have become dramatically different. Not in a good way.

The Issues:
All of the schools have lacked basic maintenance for decades. The violence has skyrocketed. The administration is over-staffed while the Teachers are understaffed. The $106 million dollar Bond was wasted on non-classroom improvements. They did not update the swimming pool - now there is NO pool on a So Cal High School campus! The fiscal irresponsibility is rampant. The Measure K Parcel Tax has been mismanaged and used for improper vendors and purchases. The Measure K Oversight Committee was even out of compliance for almost 3 full years. The now "retired" Superintendent of Finance has been on record to many financial failures and improprieties.

How Did We Get Here:
Who is behind all these most recent issues? Well, School Board member Kelly Kent has been at the helm for almost a decade. She can be blamed for some of the CCUSD failings.
But the past few years have been particularly troublesome.

With COVID came School Board Meetings via Zoom. That meant a lot more people could attend and listen while still carrying on at home (or work) and participate. And pay attention. That is when many of us learned about the CCUSD horrors. And there are many.

As I dug into the history and watched as our once highly respected School District continued to fall into the abyss, I became actively involved. My kid was in Elementary School and I decided I had time to fix some big issues. Then I came up against some walls. And the walls were most evident from two school board members: Kelly Kent and Paula Amezola.

These two women seem take away everything that made CCUSD a special and desirable school district.

The first big issue discovered was they decided to get rid of Honors in the name of equity. However, they failed to do any training of the Staff nor did they have the smaller classes to pull this off. In the name of equity and access, they managed to reduce the offerings of advanced courses for the very students they said needed more opportunities. This failure was verified by the then Superintendent Tran on NPR. A rational board would have insisted on professional development before as well as during, such a radical transition, plus data and observation to assess the success or lack of success before removing what are clearly such gateway opportunities to higher education for all students, but no.

Then the violence escalated on mainly the Middle & High School campuses. The School Board hired New Earth to assist in "social emotional therapy" Restorative Justice after a massive 50 kid all out brawl. Sounded great. It was not. They are fleecing the school district with unlicensed Staff working our kids. Their version of therapy was offering kids pizza and soda; neither of which are allowed. But the so-called New Earth, turn-key experts ignored that as well.

With all of the fiscal irresponsibility, the misrepresentation of outside vendors, allowing violence to be a daily occurrence, not dealing with knives and guns on campus properly, ignoring Ed Code about what seems like everything, removing Honors, ignoring community AND Union comments, ignoring their own Bylaws and having Brown Act Violation meetings, the School Board continues to act with impunity in unethical, corrupt and possibly even illegally.

How It Has Impacted Community Members, Personally:
I have personally been targeted by Kelly Kent and Paula Amezola. We have proof of them colluding with New Earth to send about 8 Community members "Cease & Desist" letters in an attempt to intimidate and silence us. That whole story has only ended in more parents, teachers and community members to become outraged at the School Board, the District Leadership and New Earth. What is horribly sad, the three other School Board members have sat by and done nothing as well as the School Leadership.

Kelly and Paula have also violated my First Amendment Rights as well as their own Bylaws multiple times. Getting beyond fed up with all of their heinous behaviors, we created a "Time to Resign" lawn sign with their names on them. I used the graphic as a Zoom background. They then kept shutting off my video capabilities. They even kicked me out of a few Zoom meetings because of it. In other Zoom meetings they both proclaimed they would not tolerate those kinds of “attacks” and not engage with people using threats. It’s a graphic on a Zoom background. With a request.

Paula even has said in a Culver City Democratic Club meeting that she has had her reign as School Board President curtailed because of Public Records Requests; and those requests are the most undemocratic thing to be doing. This was a ridiculous comment, but shows clearly where their priorities lie. The basics of democracy allow for transparency. Ironically, we have discovered these legally allowed, and an excellent democratic resource, were not even fulfilled as required. They withheld damning emails that show the extent of the collusion with New Earth.

What Can Be Done:
If you have read this far, you are probably wondering how they are still school board members. How can they act without impunity? Because they only way to hold them accountable is with legal action out of our own pockets! The DA will not pursue the Brown Act Violations. The State Education Dept. only makes the rules and regulations and has no jurisdiction when they are actually violated. Los Angeles County Office of Education is also not an option - they have even less authority. So here I am. Asking for assistance to sue Kelly Kent & Paula Amezola personally for violating my First Amendments Rights as well as my right to privacy since the Cease & Desist Letter came to two emails and I have never communicated with New Earth or any of their Staff.

I am asking for funds for me to hire a lawyer and hold these people accountable for all of the harm they have done to me personally; that will then hold them accountable within the District. Since they have acted without District or School Board approval, I will not plan to go after the School District for choices made by these individuals. I need them to be held accountable. Please join me in an effort to make Culver City Unified School District once again an amazing District for our kids. And, let’s make sure this kind of rampant disregard for rules, regulations, laws and basic privacy are never violated again - at least in our school district.

Thank you!
Melissa Sanders
Parent, Resident, Tax Payer & Advocate

{Lawyer at @$250+/hour = approximately 60 hours. Hopefully less. If any money is not used for legal fees, I will donate for something the District needs.}
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Organizer

Melissa Sanders
Organizer
Los Angeles, CA

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