Weston Ranch residents will now have some relief when the grueling Central Valley pounds the area this summer by allowing a Stockton non-profit to operate swimming programs at Weston Ranch High School.
But the split decision by the board wasn’t without controversy.
Last week the Manteca Unified School Board voted to allow the Stockton Kids Club – which was formed after the Boys and Girls Clubs of America revoked the local organization’s 50-year-old charter amidst controversy – to conduct swimming lessons and programs at Weston Ranch High School.
It’s the same organization that filed a lawsuit against Stockton Unified School District in November claiming that the district colluded with another Stockton non-profit to invalidate a contract worth nearly $800,000 after the charter flap became public.
The memorandum of understanding allows the organization access to the pool as long as official Manteca Unified events are not taking place through July 31. The district will in turn pay the organization $15,000 – over the course of three payments – to provide the service.
And the news was announced by at least one board member even before the meeting was over.
Despite recent controversy over the use of electronic devices during board meetings and possible violations of the Brown Act, trustee Sam Fant posted a message to the popular social networking service Facebook from his personal account that detailed the decision by the board and the fact that at least board member – trustee Nancy Teicheira – voted against it shortly after the decision was reached and before the meeting was officially over.
The timing of the message, at 10:25 p.m., prompted several residents to contact The Bulletin and point out the existence of the message and the possibility of a violation of California’s open meetings law.
“The Manteca Unified school board has approved the necessary funds to open the Weston Ranch High School swimming pool for the summer! Trustee Nancy Teicheira voted NO to fund the program,” Fant wrote in his Facebook post. “Thank you to all of the trustees that voted to support the very deserving children in the Weston Ranch community. I will follow up with a post tomorrow with details of date and time of opening. Big WIN for Weston Ranch!”
Fant and Teicheira tangled over the use of a cell phone during a closed session back in October.
According to a pamphlet distributed by the League of California Cities which attempts to clarify California’s often misunderstood open meetings law published in 2010, using digital mediums to communicate during a public meeting can give the wrong impression.
“New communication technologies present new Brown Act challenges. For example, common e-mail practices of forwarding or replying to messages can easily lead to a serial meeting prohibited by The Brown Act, as can participation by members of a legislative body in an Internet chatroom or blog dialogue,” reads a passage in a pamphlet distributed by the to describe and break down California’s open meetings law. “Communicating during meetings using electronic technology (such as laptop computers, or cellular telephones) may create the perception that private communications are influencing the outcome of decisions; some state legislatures have banned the practice. On the other hand, widespread cablecasting and web streaming of meetings has greatly expanded public access to the decision-making process.”
Manteca Unified does not provide a live stream of its meetings, but rather provides an audio copy of the recording through its website.