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Mabton parents question what it takes to be placed on school board agenda

MABTON - Giving a presentation at a Mabton School Board meeting is something that takes a little forethought. Monday night, school board members informed parents of what it takes to make the agenda.

One of the parents in the audience during last night's meeting asked board chair Manuel Guzman what the visitors and presentations heading stood for on the agenda. He explained that it's the point in the meeting where the board will take comments from the general public.

However, people can't just stand up and talk to the board. Instead, those who are interested in being placed under the topic of visitors and presentation on the agenda must make a formal request to the administration office no later than the Thursday before a regularly scheduled board meeting. The board meets on the fourth Monday of the month.

Guzman added that in order for someone to be placed on the agenda they must also submit information on the topic the person wants to discuss.

"You have to give a topic so the board can prepare themselves to give you a halfway intelligent answer," Guzman explained.

Mabton parent Rachel Ruelas told Guzman and the rest of the board that getting a place on the agenda is not that easy. She noted that last month she asked to be on the agenda and was told that she could not be a part of the formal agenda.

According to Ruelas, she did provide a topic but was told that since she had been given a chance to talk to Superintendent Sandra Pasiero-Davis earlier that same day she was not going to be placed on the agenda.

Yolanda Bickett with the Mabton School District told Ruelas that the reason she wasn't allowed to be on the agenda is because she never submitted a topic to the board.

Bickett said she asked Ruelas for a topic and Ruelas said she would call her back. According to Bickett, Ruelas never got back to her so she was not put on the agenda.

Guzman added that there are going to be times when someone is placed on the agenda without knowing the topic ahead of time, and the board may not be able to respond immediately. He said in those cases the conversation will be continued to the next month's meeting.

Another parent in the audience asked if it would be possible to create a form for parents to fill out if they want to be placed on the agenda. She noted that having a form would help end miscommunications like the one involving Ruelas.

Ruelas then asked the board members what they had done in response to several letters the board received during last month's meeting. The letters were written by local parents in support of Artz-Fox Principal Fabian Castilleja.

"We were asked to read them," Guzman said. All of the board members in attendance then nodded that they had all taken the time to read the letters.

Ruelas then asked if any of the board members had written responses to the parents. She pointed to board member Viviana Trejo and asked her if she had written responses.

Pasiero-Davis explained that Trejo has come into the district office with written responses to each of the letters, but that she had advised the board member not to send them. She explained that she made the recommendation because sending written responses would create a precedent that could lead to Trejo and other board members being forced to write a written response to every letter they receive. She said it could end up turning into a tsunami of letters that each of the board members would have to respond to.

Pasiero-Davis said she felt the best way to deal with the letters and other concerns from the community was to set up a way to dialogue with everyone at once so everyone receives the same answers.

"I advised Mrs. Trejo not to write to people individually," Pasiero-Davis said. "They were community issues that need to be addressed."

Board member Rafael Sagrero, said if the board is going to respond to something like that its needs to do it as one body.

Following the regular meeting, the Mabton School Board retired into an unadvertised executive session to discuss litigation matters.

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