The early portion of San Marino’s school board meetings are typically filled with a series of benign, yet important reports from board members that detail activities and appearances that have taken place since their most recent assembly.
That is until Board Vice President Lisa Link finished her remarks on Tuesday night with a passionate retort to community members who have resorted to threats in criticism of the board.
“Today the Board and I received an email threatening our recall if we make a particular decision,” Link said. “This community needs to decide if it wants to continue to elect its school board officials through the regular election process and let those elected volunteers perform their duties, or if it would rather let people bully the school board into making decisions that they decided they want. None of these people were elected to represent San Marino, and none of these people know all of the facts or understand all of the ramifications of the decisions facing the Board, yet they seem to think that their opinions must be followed or else. If the almost 50 years of collective experience that the sitting school board has volunteered is insufficient for this community, you can vote out the two incumbents and replace them with new ones. If this community thinks it’s okay to threaten recalls in order to get what they want, however, I will resign my position in order to save the District the money that the threatened recall vote will cost to replace me. But until I am shown a verified petition with the required number of signatures to set a recall election, I will continue to make decisions that I feel are in the best interest of our students. I will continue to appreciate the constructive, respectful, and reasoned input of our constituents, but I will not succumb to bullying and threats.”
Link said she and her fellow board members had received an email directing them to exclude a specific district employee from consideration for the position of interim superintendent when Dr. Alex Cherniss leaves for his new job at the Palos Verdes or face a possible recall.
Link explained, “This person feels that she speaks for the entire community of San Marino, asserting that ‘Sadly, I will [sic] like to share with you that our community has such a strong feeling against any discussion of placing [the current district employee] as interim superintendent, there have been discussions of pursuing an election recall of the Board members since we feel our community and schools are being placed at risk.’”
“It is hard for me to believe that the entire community of San Marino shares this person’s ‘strong feeling’ that its elected School Board should be recalled for the mere discussion and consideration of this employee, as that is not the San Marino that I know and love, but if that’s the case, then I am not the right person to serve this community and I will resign,” Link said. “Speaking for myself and myself only, I am very saddened and discouraged by the bullying and threatening behavior that seems to be increasing in this community by adults who should know better. Instead of running themselves for public office or even taking a significant leadership role in our schools to devote their time and energy toward positive change, these people take pot shots at former and current District employees and Board members and spread untrue and unfounded rumors on social media. This is not what I consider civil behavior and it is certainly not reflective of the San Marino community my husband and I wanted to be a part of when we moved here 28 years ago. As my constituents know, for the past seven years that I have served on the Board, I have been happy to meet with people and talk with them about their concerns, but there is a civil and appropriate way to express a difference of opinion and this threatening and divisive approach is not it. If this pattern of behavior is allowed to continue, I fear for this community and our school district.”