SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

Time to Move On?

Commentary from the SCUSD Observer

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In the Bee today Kim Minugh interviews board members and litigants about the bureaucratic mushy language that materialized on Thursday night’s recommendation. Are we dealing with a delay or the abandonment of the consent decree?

The original settlement of the consent decree is flawed. After five years, the issue is (and always has been) the disposition of the facility at Sacramento High School. Until that returns to the public trust, this “headache” as Roy Grimes puts it, will never go away. The current board of trustees is incapable of making sound public policy on this matter. Rick Jennings and Karen Young are in St. Hope’s back pocket. Ellyne Bell can’t cast a vote because she is a litigant to the original decree. Perhaps Manny Hernandez has higher political aspirations and is casting his vote accordingly. Jerry Houseman is rumored to be ready to step out of the public spotlight after his term is up.

A new school board is to be elected this fall. Hopefully the new trustees will not be installations of Kevin Johnson’s choosing but rather independent, thinkers with political saavy.

And speaking of Kevin Johnson, a lot is up-in-the-air politically at the moment. Will he win the mayoral race? Will the federal investigation into his activities at St. Hope bear fruit?

Over the next few board meetings, if the trustees wrangle to include language on a recommendation to delay the decree, the current trustees give a new board the albatross. An albatross that has been endlessly dragged through the mud at community forums, board meetings, committee meetings, staff meetings….

Yet if the decree is abandoned, a new solution about Sac High may emerge — a solution that doesn’t include the flawed constraints of legal hamstringing. The consent decree was ultimately reduced to a compromise that didn’t address the original problem. And the only parties to compromise in the original decree were the litigants themselves — the parents who now strongly cling to what they feel is the only leg they have to stand on to get Sac High back.

Enough money has been wasted on finding a solution to settling the decree. It’s time to re-evaluate the goal and review the option. There are only two solutions and they both reside on the Sacramento High School property.

Either St. Hope’s failing charter should be relocated to a smaller site and the Sac High facility reverts back to a public high school for all the communities it serves OR the “Consent Decree High School” and and the St. Hope program co-locate on the Sac High campus.

Either option allows progress in a positive direction without the rancor that has plagued the process for the past five years.

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Written by scusdobserver

May 17, 2008 at 1:56 pm

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