Ashley Drain — self-proclaimed social media mogul and school board member dealing with a repertoire of felony charges ranging from election fraud and welfare fraud to grand theft — wants more training so she can be a better Manteca Unified trustee.
It is why she pushed and got a board policy modified to allow individual trustees to approach the board for tax dollars to attend more than one out-of-district training sessions for board members. The policy limits each trustee to one such session a year that’s funded out of the school budget.
Given cutting remarks and insults that she’s hurled verbally at board meetings at dedicated Weston Ranch High teachers as well as on social media, she might want to consider asking for funding to go to an anger management training session.
Her tendency at times to push for “cultural change” with the subtlety of Jason doing his thing in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie genre has a nasty tendency to obscure her genuine concerns and desire to alter the educational landscape.
You don’t get people to listen to you let alone engage them in a dialogue to institute change by insulting them, equating everything to racism or ageism, or dismissing criticism of your performance of a public servant as “garbage.”
People have a right to expect their elected leaders to set a standard. And while Drain is right that it shouldn’t necessarily be in lockstep with what ever conceived or real coalition that exists, she is wrong to employ General Sherman-style tactics of slash and burn to try and secure her objectives. Not only does it rarely work, but even when it does it secures no lasting or meaningful change because either people were hammered into submission or they quietly seethe waiting for the opportunity to make their move.
It is doubtful that Drain will get training to reign in her tendency to make divisive bombastic utterances or pound people into submission with intimidating key strokes. It may be who she is but when you are supposed to set the standard for educating 23,500 kids, overseeing — not running — a $200 million concern with 3,000 plus employees funded by 110,000 local taxpayers you need to step up your game a notch or two.
Sometimes it requires holding your tongue and refrain from vicious blogging as others vent or make points that you disagree with. That doesn’t mean a trustee should be a wall flower, far from it.
As for better training for her role of a trustee, it is doubtful that all the training in the world will do much good if trustees don’t grasp the basic premise of why they are trustees.
They were not elected to run the day-to-day operations of the district or schools. They essentially hire a superintendent to do that. For want of a better way to do it, that’s the law.
Following the law is something that Drain isn’t necessarily inclined to do. It’s fine to believe that the laws are wrong and even pursue civil disobedience. But blatantly thumbing your nose at the law; employee interaction rules backed up by legislation, court ruling and collective bargaining; and misleading voters is an entirely different story.
We will find out eventually if there is any truth to the welfare charges and the grand theft charge.
Thanks to the board as a whole failing to hold its members accountable for respecting employee rights when individual trustees interact with them we may soon enjoy even more legal costs incurred by renegade trustees trampling on employees. As for voter fraud, it is still up to the courts but if you take a look at the documents that she signed under perjury of law when she filed for office it is clear that she didn’t know where she lived. And she did not live in the right district. Yes voters wanted change, but that doesn’t mean it is OK to not play by the rules and essentially deceive them.
One last thought on training: Drain hasn’t demonstrated that she really is committed to the idea.
Back in December she was given an option to attend training in San Francisco conducted by the California School Board Association for new and existing board members. Drain signed up but when she arrived to check in at her hotel, she found it “unacceptable.” She returned home and did not attend the training.
The CSBA doesn’t schedule seminars in dumps or even a Motel 6.
Paying for “additional” training is a big risk given you can’t get registration fees refunded or the first day of a hotel stay if you cancel too late.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.