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If BUSD Board Won’t Fire Trio, Parents Should Implement “Sick Outs”


If the Brentwood Union School District wants to begin reestablishing any form of credibility, it will need to immediately fire Superintendent Merrill Grant, Loma Vista Elementary principal Lauri James and teacher Dina Holder. After that is done, the healing process can begin.

Since the story broke about a 2010 incident, in which teacher Dina Holder pulled a 5-year-old student from his chair and kicked him as he lay on the ground, things have not improved with the actions of the Superintendent or the Board, its actually gotten worse as the District has taken a “protect our butts” stance while blaming California laws. Okay fair enough, but the lack of effort in trying is more disturbing.

I would hope the school board realizes that when a child is messed with, parents will not go away. Parents will continue to advocate for action until it occurs. Parents band together and unfortunately, it puts the school board in an unfriendly situation. The truth is,  the longer this drags on, the worse it is for everyone associated with the District–and the City of Brentwood.

The school board needs to put on its “big boy pants” and begin taking the leadership position to begin the firings or seeking of resignations immediately. For obvious reasons, resignations would be the cleanest and fastest ways to move forward, but it’s been weeks and their has been no action, just lip service.

Here is a brief summary:

  1. On January 15, story breaks about the $950k settlement.
  2. On January 16, we get a poor explanation from Superintendent Grant that “Teacher dismissals are very complex, very cumbersome and it takes a lot of time”  He then said laws prevented him from firing the teacher. No, he didn’t try hard enough 2 1/2 years ago.
  3. On January 24,  there is the meeting where the School Board spoke through their lawyer stating how the course of action was justified by moving her to another school while changing her grade level. Wrong, they could have fired her if they had just attempted to do so as this is a non-union school district. It should be noted, the School Board didn’t plan for a large audience and held their meeting in too small of a room.
  4. Then last night, Brentwood finally gets its much deserved apology which is too little too late.

It’s been 15-days and very little action has occurred.  At this point, actions speak louder than words. Stop with the apologies and explanations and take the appropriate action towards removing the trio from the District. Then move forward with the healing process and putting policies in place. People will forgive and move forward in  time, but not under this leadership.

While I hear people state that they need to fix the process and policies first, then fire, I reject that philosophy. You can’t expect those people who screwed this up that badly to fix the problem.  This is technically not even a policy problem, its a lack of action problem because when the incident occurred,  there was already processes in place. They also had 2 1/2 years while this was going on to fix its reporting policy and are just now waiting to it after the story broke? Give me a break.  They are in reaction mode, not proactive mode.

As a parent, I am not quite sure what this Board is thinking. When injustice towards children occurs, parents band together and ensure proper actions occur and will not stop until justice occurs. For that very reason, this is not going to go away.

While I applaud the group of parents who announced the formation of the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education, more needs to be done by parents ensure the Board moves forward with appropriate action by hitting the District where it hurts—financially!

If parents really want to make an impact, begin issuing transfer requests out of the special needs classrooms within the District—it takes away that money.

A much larger impact is strategically keeping children home from school which also hurts the district financially and at a much larger impact. You have two options here which is a massive “sick out” of all schools or rotational. Or, one kid per classroom each day until the Board “gets it”.

Is a “sick out” a bit extreme to suggest? probably!  But the lack of actions by the Board is disturbing to say the least.

It’s been two-weeks since the District stated they believed their actions were appropriate. Parents suggest otherwise and I’ll side with the parents on this. If Superintendent Grant and the Board can’t do the right thing, its time to begin “sick outs” and find new Board Members who will do the right thing going forward.


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18 Responses »

  1. Burk, have you gone mad? Kidding. I love the idea. It will ensure real action occurs given the poor response from the district. This has dragged on long enough, time for parents to take off the gloves.

  2. Given the way this board has acted, I am all for it. Too bad I have no kids in Brentwood School District.

  3. Absolutely not. Worst idea ever as Burkholder is suggesting punishing the entire district over one incident. He will likley get the firing at some point, just give it more time.

  4. On average, school districts lose about $50 per student per absences costing districts a lot of money. Since we are a service we pay about 80 to 85% for salaries and benefits. What you are proposing will only hurt the employees and, I believe, the students themselves as the number one indicator of student success is time in front of a quality y. Please find another way to get your message through.

    • @Vicki, this is exactly the type of leverage parents could use to ensure the Board speeds up this process. Is it my first choice or second choice? Absolutely not! Should they do it? No. But, if this drags much longer, then parents should consider it and put it on the table. Only parents can decide if a “sick out” is right for them. Just thought I’d throw it out there as a potential tool to stop the funny business by the Superintendent and the Board.

      Just to be clear.

      Choice #1 – resignations
      Choice #2 – firings
      Choice #3 – keep the pressure on – the newspapers can help with this
      Choice #4 – get creative such as planned “sick outs” and anything else that makes sense.

  5. This is an idea that deserves consideration if the Board continues to drag its feet much longer. This would really make a point that parents won’t put up with this type of behavior from a school district.

    @Vicki, I am offended you are concerned with the employees pay, I am more concerned about the safety of our children.

    • @ Special Needs, Then you misread my message, I am for the safety of kids and for kids in general. What you all are advocating for in my opinion HURTS kids. I agree with the message just not the way you want to get it through. There are other ways.

      • Sorry, I don’t live in Brentwood. Though I do like the idea I am with Vicki, no. You need to pressure the district every way possible, a lot of pressure until this is final. If they are smart, they will resign.

  6. I like the idea of a “sick out”, but not sure if a one day “sick out” will do any good. I would love to see Dina Holder resign immediately. I can’t believe given how much press, embarressment and $$ she has caused the district, let alone hurting a child/children, that she hasn’t left her position on her own accord. Maybe protests at the district office or the school that she is working her “desk job” might make her leave sooner. This doesn’t solve the problem at hand, but would love to see her go now!!

  7. I am in complete agreement that individuals need to be fired or should willingly resign as a result of how this entire situation was handled from start to finish. As a parent of child who had Ms Holder for over 2 years, I’m outraged. However, keeping my son from attending school would be a very poor decision. With the exception of Ms Holder, his teachers and 1-1 aide since have been & are currently incredible. Together, we have a great plan in place so that my son can grow academically, emotionally, physically & socially on a day-to-day basis. His progress reports, as well as my first hand observation, show growth in each of these areas. If he began missing school, he would regress dramatically. I believe there are other ways to take action, but removing kids from the classroom, while it does hurt the district, it also hurts our children.

    In regards to Jane Doe’s comment, this is NOT the only incident. There are multiple incidents. I have been in attendance at the BUSD meetings. One mother shared an incident (which was reported) that took place PRIOR to 2010 and another parent shared their incident (which was also reported), and it took place in January 2012. There are plenty more incidents that could and should be told.

    I am not done fighting this fight on behalf of my son and his classmates and I will not stop until resolution is found. I am personally working on ways to take ACTION, but it will not include my child being absent.

  8. They all need to be fired! Dina does not deserve retirement benefits for this!

  9. There is a group of parents who have come together to create a larger voice.

    I think the “sick out” is a great idea, the board isn’t doing anything. The longer this goes on the longer it takes before our community can return to normal.

  10. If the School Board had thought this through, they would have taken their chances in court and received publicity for fighting for what is right for children, not the teacher and administration. Instead they tried to hide it and it blew up in their face. If it hit the media that they were trying to fire a teacher for beating a kid, they would have been applauded, they could have been the district that got Sacramento to make real changes to laws for firing tenured teachers.

    Brentwood is getting what they deserve, the idea of a sick out is not a bad idea at all if the board is not doing anything. If anything it gets the attention of the School Board pretty damn quickly! Remember people, money talks!!!!!!!!

  11. A sick out will only hurt the children and cost the school district because they lose state revenue. The implementation of a recall on board members to terminate certain responsible employees would produce a better result. Keeping children out of school is non productive and hurts the child. Demand termination and begin recall if not satisfied. Just sayin.

  12. Hindsight is 20/20 and per usual, those who live in glass houses and who always make the right decision & choices are educating the masses about all the things that the district leadership could have and should have done. Assuming the allegations are true, I believe that Ms. Holder should have been removed from the classroom until the incident was investigated and the District leadership had come to a decision about how the matter would be handled publicly and privately.

    I do not condone the actions of Ms. Holder or the District, if the allegations are true. However, as an attorney I understand and share with everyone that cases are often settled without much consideration of the veracity of claims levied against the defending party. Attorney’s fees, publicity, litigation costs, and other risk factors are weighed against the need to have your client’s feelings or actions validated publicly.

    Most of us, myself included, don’t really know the whole story and we probably never will. We only know what’s been shared publicly. I would hazard a highly educated guess that the attorneys for Ms. Holder, Ms. James, Mr. Grant and the District have carefully counseled each of their respective clients’ about the information shared publicly. Likewise, the attorney for the family and the family itself has likely only shared the information favorable to their position.

    The reality is that both sides had some good facts and some bad facts that were considered. The District and its lawyers in acknowledging those bad facts arrived at a settlement number that they could live with when balancing it against the costs of continued litigation. Likewise, the family and their lawyer acknowledged the facts that weren’t favorable to their position and arrived at a dollar amount that they could live with. If either side felt strongly about their positions, they would have trusted their judgment to a jury of their peers.

    Instead of wasting time coming up with petty and irrational ways to “punish” the school district, invest your time in your children and their education. Let’s face it the State and the Schools are out of money and can only do so much. Likewise, our limited free time is precious and much better spent practicing handwriting, math, and reading with the children who will inevitably lead our country.

  13. So… we who are actually in the boundaries of the BUSD are on the hook for nearly a miillion and you suggest we make another fincial hit on the district with some cockamamy walk out that hurts our kids even more? How is that a good idea again? I think you type faster than you engage your brain sometimes. Has to be a better answer than that.

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