The Nevada Joint Union High School District (NJUHSD) board had their October meeting yesterday afternoon. During the reports from Board of Trustees item, Trustee Jim Hinman, Vice-President Jim Drew and Board President Pat Seeley proceeded to campaign from the dais, endorsing appointed board member Leishman and, in Drew and Seeley’s case, Seeley’s son Jay Adamson.

During her report, Trustee Leishman mentioned she is on the November ballot and hopes to continue to serve, having dedicated “hundreds of hours in the short time [since her appointment.]”

Trustee Hinman offered his opinion on “so many young women coming out to run for this office,” stating he was thrilled and felt good there were women entering the contest. He continued, “I want to clearly, publicly, put my support behind Stephanie.”

Trustee Drew’s remarks were in the same vein, and he also added a comment about “the young man running in district 5 [Pat Seeley’s son Jay Adamson.]

Trustee Seeley for her part referred to her notebook, reading what sounded like a lengthy prepared statement, praising Leishman and Adamson.

Even after a member of the public questioned the appropriateness of the statements, Seeley stated, “this is my time for what I want to say.” Superintendent Dan Frisella commented he thought they could discuss candidates, “you just have to be careful not to do any campaigning.”

The district’s legal counsel was not present at the meeting. Superintendent Frisella clarified for YubaNet that “like most school districts, our legal counsel does not regularly attend our school board meetings. This is a cost that we would prefer to save for other educational programs or specific legal questions.”

Trustee DuWaine Ganskie acknowledged the public’s misgivings and asked if a policy should be developed. A rather testy exchange with Seeley followed, with Seeley wanting “to move on.”

Student Trustee Amelia Glaz added that speaking in favor of candidates, during a board meeting, “if there are consequences to that, that should be looked into.”

Trustee Drew commented on the sparse audience and “the three people watching on Zoom,” adding, “I hope we haven’t stepped on too many toes.”

The meeting was held in the early afternoon to allow trustees to attend the celebration of the teacher of the year.

Board policy manual

The district’s own Board Policy manual, available on their website, has clear guidance on political processes in Policy 1160:

“No district funds, services, supplies, or equipment shall be used to urge the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate, including any candidate for election to the Board. (Education Code 7054)”

The meeting was held in district facilities, broadcast live and is available for on-demand viewing in the district’s video archive.

Superintendent Frisella, who works directly for the board, responded to our question as to why he did not intervene when the trustees started campaigning from the dais. “I have an understanding of our board policy surrounding political activities of employees and the role of the board. I was surprised when board members began discussing the upcoming election, especially specific candidates. I did not intervene when the first board member was presenting her board update because I believed it was an isolated mistake by a new board member. When the board agenda was put together, political endorsements was not included as part of the agenda. When a member of the public questioned the appropriateness of board member comments that were underway I interjected to caution that board members are not to use the board meeting platform to campaign for board candidates. Ultimately, the board is responsible for adhering to board policies and administrative regulations. As an employee of the board the superintendent’s role is to help the board remain in compliance with board bylaws, policies and education code. I will be working to prevent violations of board bylaws and policies as we move forward.”

The excerpt below is the trustee report portion of the meeting.

https://yubanet.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/njuhsdmeetingtrusteecomments.mp4

The Board of Trustees has been elected by the community to provide leadership and citizen oversight of the district, according to Bylaw 9000: Role Of The Board.

The candidates on the November 8th ballot are:

Nevada Joint Union High School District Trustee Area 1
(seat currently held by Hinman)
Olivia Pritchett
Jenny Scicluna
Nevada Joint Union High School District Trustee Area 2
(seat currently held by Leishman*)
Wendy Willoughby
Stephanie Leishman
Nevada Joint Union High School District Trustee Area 5
(seat currently held by Seeley)
Ken Johnson
Jay Adamson
* appointed in June 2022

9 replies on “NJUHSD trustees Seeley, Drew and Hinman flunk ethics 101”

  1. Such a sad commentary on our current school board. This is not reflective of our diverse and amazing student body.

  2. This is exactly why I’m running for the high school board in Area 5, which is the South County including Alta Sierra and Lake of the Pines.

    I have 38 years of teaching experience, and I am endorsed unanimously by the teachers’ association and by well=respected and proven leaders in our community including…

    Board of Supervisor Ed Scofield

    Louise Johnson, retired, NJUHSD Superintendent

    Susan Clarabut, retired, Superintendent/Principal at Chicago Park School, principal at Pleasant Ridge School

    Taryn Montre-Loehr, retired, Bear River Counselor

    Jeff Dellis, retired, retired NU Athletic Director

    The support is overwhelming and continues to grow. A full list of over forty endorsements can be found on my website at voteforken.com

    Politics has no place on our school board. Their attention should be focused entirely on student achievement. Right now, our school board is dysfunctional and focused more on political agendas than the students. Some examples are…

    1. The school district’s lawyer had to be brought in to the August meeting to train the board on how to run a school board meeting and to follow state laws. How much taxpayer money was wasted paying for the lawyer?

    2. The board stopped the practice of recognizing and honoring students at board meetings for their achievements, whether it be athletic, academic, or extra-curricular.

    3. The board laid off the construction instructor and eliminated that program. The board also didn’t bring back ROP which is another Voc Ed program. Students could be trained and start good-paying jobs immediately after graduation. All students have different types of skills, talents, and needs, so we need to support college readiness along with a robust vocational ed program.

    4. The board doesn’t allow applause at board meetings.

    5. The board treats community members disrespectfully. No wonder few show up to board meetings.

    I would be honored to continue my career in education as your high school board member. Contact me at my website, voteforken.com. Thank you.

  3. Thank you Ken Johnson for your comments. I agree, let’s bring back a focus on the students and their achievements. Let’s bring in board members that won’t call the very accomplished student board representative “cute” and instead recognize her many achievements. The lack of professionalism and ethics has been an embarrassment.

  4. Thank you YubaNet for bringing wider attention to this issue. This board clearly needs legal guidance and oversight. It’s not a matter of “stepping on toes” — it’s a matter of knowing protocol and following it. And if you can’t do that, at the very least when an outside listener (in this case a community member attending the meeting) points out your missteps, treat them with respect, and consider their concerns rather than rudely dismissing them.

  5. it is very simple – recall the ones who violated the Board policy, especially Seely the President of the Board…
    Power Corrupts – Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
    apparently they don’t teach this in schools anymore as it’s considered Critical Thinking (i.e. ‘Woke’) – and that is strictly verboten in right-wing paradigm…

  6. Thank you for covering this issue! I served on an elementary school board for eight years and I was sad to see such flagrant violations of the rules of conduct by these board members. This was a good reminder of how important local elections are.

  7. I served 17 years on the Vacaville USD board of eduction. Even a new school board trustee knows that you cannot campaign during a board meeting. Legal counsel or not, the Superintendent needs to stop the meeting immediately to correct the situation. He knows that campaigning during a board meeting is a violation.

  8. Unfortunately, very often people are either promoted or elected into positions for which they are unprepared. School Boards are among the most affected by this. Candidates get elected for ideological reasons, they don’t study to become more competent board members, they don’t curb their impulses and they try to cover up their lack of knowledge. They can’t handle conflict and they can’t mediate when others have conflict seemnot tm understand that cnfict is part if the sytem. They seemed to have no idea that campaigning was a problem, and if Dan Frisella tried to intervene it could have gotten testy. I don’t know the cost of having the attorney present but given the last few years, that may be a worthy expense. Ken Johnson reports that they don’t allow applause, which must stem from some of the large groups that attended last year and cheered each other on. That may have been a temporary measure but it needs to be rescinded – things are tense but let people applaud for their side within reason. I would like to see a Board that’s competent, informed, interacts positively with the public, and knows how to manage crowds and navigate between opposing sides. Last year I counted 4 of the 5 trustees as having attended local schools, and while we should honor community knowledge and history, a little influx of ideas from other places, and someone who has attended School Board training and other advanced courses, would be welcome additions. This group is locked into positions based on who they hang with, and we need at least a few voices from outside the tight circle – if we don’t get them I urge the new Board members to make contacts throughout the region and come to the table with ideas and possibilities. The student forum is a great idea, celebrating student achievement at meetings is absolutely essential for a hundred reasons, and anyone with mediation skills should sharpen them and be ready. Last year’s issues are still unresolved.

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