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Around Town: Who will be in, who will be out?

December 07, 2011|By Anita Brenner

The election is over, but the campaign has just begun. La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board members Susan Boyd, Scott Tracy and Joel Peterson face the following assignment: What will they do with newly-elected members Ellen Multari and Andrew Blumenfeld? Will we see a 3-2 split in votes? Can Scott Tracy hold a coalition together?

The first test was on Tuesday night, when the board scheduled a closed session to consider disciplinary action against Gabrielle Leko. Due to employment privacy rights, employee discipline is confidential.

The second test will be how the new board handles the fallout from the Leko issue. Whether or not the allegations were true, they deserved a swift resolution, not a six-month debacle. Will the new board recognize the community’s concerns with the accountability process? Time will tell.

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The third test is more difficult. The subject is prejudice. How will the new board address this emotional subject?

School boosters drop the ball when they complain of “political correctness.” There’s no better way to damage La Cañada’s reputation than to dismiss the alleged victims as “overly sensitive.”

Women and men of courage learn to respect other people’s sensitivities.

Case in point: the U.S. Marine Corps. The Marines were the last service branch to accept African-American troops. Their integration began with a segregated unit. Today, instead of dodging the issue of prejudice, the USMC has openly addressed it. Last fall, the commandant issued a video message about the Montford Point Marines, an early segregated unit. By openly discussing the elephant in the room, the Marines have moved forward. This applies to other areas, as well. Today, while other branches of the military struggle with the abolition of “Don't ask, don't tell,” the Marine Corps recruiters have consistently led the way.

Case in point: the United States Naval Academy. In 1976, the first women were admitted. It was rough going. Today, the USNA openly displays the documentary history of the difficult gender issues of the late 1970s and early 1980s. And, as part of their leadership training, plebes tour the National Holocaust Museum. Respect and open discussion have moved everyone forward.

Institutions that openly confront the issue of prejudice will achieve greater success.

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