BRENTWOOD -- The Brentwood school board on Wednesday asked parents for ongoing patience as it continues to examine the facts surrounding a 2010 incident involving a special education teacher convicted of throwing a 5-year-old special-needs student on a classroom floor and kicking him.
School board President Carlos Sanabria said that the board intends to carefully study an independent review of the incident that occurred in Dina Holder's classroom. Although Sanabria said that the board would continue with its ongoing performance evaluation of Brentwood Superintendent Merrill Grant, it didn't fire him at this week's board meeting, as some parents of special-needs students have demanded.
"We understand that we got here through our own actions and inactions," Sanabria said. "We want our district to be known for excellence in special education and for open, clear communication with parents of special education students."
Meanwhile, the Brentwood Community Advisory Committee and district leaders are working collaboratively to improve the district's approach to mandated reporting of abuse incidents, effective documentation of employee concerns and complaint procedures. Brentwood Community Advisory Committee co-chairwoman Marie Fajardo said that the special education advisory committee is a connection between the board and families with special-needs students.
"You have a direct link to the board," she said to parents. "We are kind of like the community watchdog."
Other recent or future actions include ongoing online training for all district employees on mandated reporting; collaboration with the Child Abuse Prevention Council; training of all substitute teachers; parent forums in April; and possible student training. The Community Advisory Committee also will review the district's documentation procedures.
"We have a vision," committee co-chairman Humberto Sale said. "We want the district to have a plan with measurable goals and objectives."
Several parents favored placing video cameras in special education classrooms. Parent Christina Keene said that live-streaming video would improve accountability.
"I think that it is a great idea, so we can monitor our kids' safety," she said.
Stephanie Stewart from the BUSD Concerned Parents and Teachers group presented a petition to the board with community signatures calling for Grant's dismissal.
"I simply want those individuals who made wrong decisions to be held accountable appropriately," she said.
Sanabria said the board still may choose actions that lead to district reform, discipline of those involved in the incident, or both. Again, he apologized for the pain that the recent settlement has caused the district.
"We have learned a lot in the last month," Grant said. "We are going to do everything we can to regain that trust."
For more information on the Brentwood Community Advisory Committee, go to www.brentwoodcac.org. The group's next meeting will be at 9 a.m. Feb. 22 at The Little Gym, 3850 Balfour Road, Suite K, Brentwood.
Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174 or firstname.lastname@example.org.