OPEN MEETINGS — "In a dramatic move supporting government transparency and accountability, Dr. KimOanh Nguyen Lam, trustee for the Garden Grove
Unified School District, walked out of Tuesday evenings board meeting
over an alleged blatant violation of the Brown Act by her fellow board
members" that denied her a nomination to a board officer's position, reports Chris Prevatt for TheLiberalOC.com.
Before a packed board room that included many high school students
covering the board meeting for their civics class, Dr. Nguyen Lam
referenced actions that took place in the boards organizational
meeting on December 15, 2009.
Right before the board meeting began, as we were
sitting in our seats, up here on the dais, which at that time from left
to right, Mrs. Linda Reed, Mr. Lan Nguyen, myself, Mr. Bob Harden, and
Dr. George West Mr. Lan Nguyen walked over to Mr. Bob Harden and
asked him, in a hushed voice, if he agreed to be the next board
president. Mr. Harden said yes and nodded his head to show his consent.
Then Mr. Lan Nguyen turned to Dr. George West and asked if Dr. West
could nominate Lan for the Vice-president post. Dr. West laughed out
loud and teased Lan for wanting only the second position but he
also agreed to do the nomination. This took place just a few minutes
before Dr. Schwalm (GGUSD Superintendent) called the meeting to order
and we all stood up to do the pledge of allegiance.
So when the organizational meeting process began, everything
proceeded as Mr. Lan Nguyen had arranged. Lan nominated Bob for the
Board President and George seconded it. Next, George West nominated Lan
Nguyen for vice-president and Linda Reed seconded and he remained in
his seat (as he was the vice-president to Linda Reed last year.) I was
so stunned that I could not respond. When Dr. Schwalm called for the
vote, I remained silent. I was feeling conflicted because what had just
occurred was potentially a violation of the Brown Act.
Way back when I was first elected, I was sent to a training in
D.C. organized by NALEAO- the National Association for the Latino
Elected and Appointed Officers. One training session covered the Brown
Act. I was taught that whenever 3 board members talked to each other
prior to a board meeting on a topic that required a vote that was a
violation of the Brown Act. I also learned that if one board member
talked to one, then that one talked to another on the same topic that
too, violates the Brown Act. I also recalled being told that if one
board member talks to two different board members separately but on the
same issue would constitute a Brown Act violation.
It isnt easy for me to bring this up but the most important
thing to me is my integrity I am an educator and a member elected to
represent and serve the community. Integrity which I define as having
the courage to live in a way that my beliefs, my thoughts, my words,
and actions are all aligned. That is why I bring this up to you today.
Without integrity, there is no public trust. So, please help me resolve
The board looked shocked and for a few awkward moments, there was
complete silence. At length, Lan Nguyen admitted that he did indeed
talk to Bob Harden about whether he wanted to be president but denied
that was a violation of the act. Given that this conversation took
place right next to George West, it is difficult to believe that Dr.
West did not hear the conversation and agree to the deal since Dr West
indeed nominated Lan for vice-president. When asked directly by KimOanh
what happened on December 15th, Dr. West said he did not recall.
Prevatt notes that KimOanh "is an acclaimed education professor at California State University
Long Beach, a former teacher and PTA president, and an appointed member
of State Superintendent Jack OConnells pre-k-16 Advisory Board. Yet
in the six years she has been on the board, she never has been
president or vice-president."