By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
Dr. KimOanh Nguyen-Lam staged a walk out at Tuesday’s school board meeting, alleging a violation of the Brown Act and a lack of integrity within the board itself.
Nguyen-Lam has been a member of the Garden Grove Unified School District’s School board for six years.
At the beginning of the meeting, she stated that she could not approve the first motion of the board, the approval of the last meeting’s minutes, due to the statement that Bob Harden had been elected unanimously as the board president.
She said that the record was incorrect, because she had never said anything.
Nguyen-Lam alleged that school board vice president Lan Nguyen had spoken with Harden before the meeting, asking him if he would consent to being nominated as the president for the year.
Nguyen-Lam also alleged that Nguyen asked board member George West if he would second the motion, to which Nguyen-Lam alleges West said he would and asked if Nguyen would want a motion to appoint Nguyen to the vice president position.
George West replied in the meeting, “To be honest, I can’t recall the exact details of what happened before the meeting.”
West declined to comment further on the topic.
Nguyen was very offended by the suggestion by Nguyen-Lam that he would violate the Brown Act and said that he only spoke with Harden before the meeting, something that he said he did not believe was a violation.
“When I talked to him, I talked to him only,” said Nguyen.
Nguyen-Lam said that by denying her statements that she was being called a liar. She also said that people have conspired against her year after year and that the symbolic shifting of the president position is a political maneuver.
Board member Linda Reed said, “Dr. Nguyen-Lam has made some serious allegations tonight. I think that we need some help.”
Superintendent Laura Schwalm said that they could take measures to have legal counsel on the matter and to have the minutes from the previous meeting amended.
She left amidst a crowd of reporters and photographers from local newspapers.
To that end, Harden said, “Well, and that wasn’t a political action at all was it?”
After the meeting, Harden said that he did not know if Nguyen-Lam’s statements had been provoked by the wish to be appointed president.
“You would really have to ask her about her feelings on that,” said Harden.
Harden also said that the fact is that there was orchestrated media coverage specifically for her and that it is an election year.
The Brown Act requires actions and records to be made available to the public upon items that will be voted on during the meetings of governing bodies.
Such bodies cover government, city councils, school boards and public organizations. The act was put in place to assure transparency in government to the public.
Also on Tuesday, the school board decided not to further look into participating in the Race to the Top competitive federal grant.
The grant is a federal one time money grant that requires that schools and states that participate to reform to federal guidelines for standards and assessment, produce data to the government concerning scores and achievements, follow new guidelines for teacher effectiveness and evaluation, low scoring school turn around programs and state to local collaboration on student achievement benchmarks.
However, the school board and the Garden Grove Education Association all said that they did not feel that buying into this program would benefit them in the long run.
By giving up their local control to undefined standards by the federal government, the board felt that what they would have to give would be much more than they could walk away with, even if that meant more money.
“We would be relinquishing our right to do our jobs here . . . they would be asking us to stop looking at our subgroups and to lump all of our students into one group . . . if we did this it would be taking us ten years backwards,” said Reed.
“It looks like they are asking us to sign up for a program that doesn’t even exist yet,” said Harden, “We have not seen any evidence that the people in D.C. or Sacramento know where the top is.”