– The school district’s board of trustees pulled a meeting about
compensation for future superintendents off its closed session
agenda after the Dispatch informed it that it was in violation of a
state freedom of information law.
Gilroy – The school district’s board of trustees pulled a meeting about compensation for future superintendents off its closed session agenda after the Dispatch informed it that it was in violation of a state freedom of information law.
The board intended to speak about the pay range and compensation package it wanted to post alongside its ad for a new superintendent last Thursday. Because the discussion was not with an actual candidate but rather about a position, the meeting would have violated The Ralph M. Brown Act, a California law governing open meetings.
“If they’re going to be setting the salary for a position and they haven’t hired somebody or they’re not 99 percent of the way there, they have to do that in public session,” said Peter Scheer, executive director for the California First Amendment Coalition, an organization that protects public information rights.
Before the meeting took place the Dispatch contacted Trustee Francisco Dominguez to inform him of the illegality of the meeting. He then contacted Darrel Taylor, the Gilroy Unified School District interim superintendent, who investigated the matter and pulled it from the agenda.
“It really wasn’t an item for discussion in closed session,” said Dominguez.
Preparing the board agenda is the responsibility of the president, Tom Bundros, and superintendent – Edwin Diaz at the time, though he claimed to have nothing to do with the item – said Dominguez.
The discussion was originally slated as an open session item, Bundros said, but he changed it when a person he would not name informed him that it should be closed session.
“When it comes down to actual negotiations with a person, it’s definitely a closed session item,” Bundros said. “I think that’s what the confusion came from. I think we got it right at the end.”
Rather than addressing the compensation range of future superintendents later that night in the open session of the regular board meeting, the board created a subcommittee of three members – trustees Jaime Rosso, Rhoda Bress and Pat Midtgaard as chair.
The trio will hold a meeting in private – in accordance with the state open meetings laws, which allow closed sessions for groups that comprise less than a quorum – Wednesday or Thursday to investigate the compensation packages of the superintendents in Morgan Hill and Milpitas, two comparable school districts, Midtgaard said.
Former superintendent, Edwin Diaz, made $175,000 per year plus benefits and the board discussed giving him a 7 percent raise to keep him from taking a job with the Pasadena Unified School District.
The subcommittee also will consider the possibility of tying pay to job performance.
The three trustees will present their findings to the rest of the board at a special meeting on March 29.
Tying salary to job performance is not something that will figure that prominently in the report, Midtgaard said.
The research and report will focus on “salary recommendations, not so much how we’re going to arrive at it,” she said.