July 14, 1997
The Honorable William L. Gordon
Santa Barbara County Superior Court
1100 Anacapa St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Re: Response of Buellton Union School District to the 1996-97 Grand Jury
Report; Recommendations of District with Respect to Monitoring Activities
of Individual Grand Jurors
Our File No. 97-118
The Grand Jury report asks for our comments to their recommendations on
certain items within 90 days. This letter serves as our response.
Grand Jury Recommendations Regarding School Site Acquisition Efforts
> Recommendation 1a: That the school board appoint a citizens' advisory
committee with oversight authority over school construction program activities.
District Response: Without reaching the merits of the idea, which may or
may not be workable, the District is precluded by state law from delegating
any such power or authority to an outside group. See Education Code section
>Recommendation 1b: The school board should publish a quarterly report
on construction projects.
District Response: The District is already issuing reports of this type.
>Recommendation 1c: [Does not call for school board action.]
>Recommendation 2a: That the school board make available to the voters
a copy of the Grand Jury report.
District Response: The District has made a copy available for public
inspection at its offices.
>Recommendation 2b: [Does not call for school board action.]
>Recommendation 3: Buy a school site.
District Response: Negotiations continue with a prospective seller. If a
satisfactory arrangement is not made by August 6, the District will
consider other resources.
Grand Jury Recommendations Regarding Ralph M. Brown Act
>Recommendation 1a: That the District comply with the Brown Act
District Response: The District has obeyed the law and will continue to
do so. See Civil Code section 3548 and Evidence Code section 664. In this
connection, we would note that the Grand Jury seems to associate itself
with a purported "finding" by the district attorney, a finding
subsequently abandoned by the district attorney in settlement of litigation
with the District.
The District believes a lot of misunderstanding could have been avoided
if individual grand jurors had better understood their duties and jurisdiction
as they assumed office last year. For instance, without explanation a grand
juror was seen in private discussions with a local landowner's representative
at a number of school board meetings during the last year. At the same time,
that particular landowner was actively seeking to market some real property
to the District. These inferences could create an appearance of impropriety,
an appearance which might best be avoided by scheduling of grand juror visits
to school districts.
The District further believes that a grand jury's role is something other
than to criticize superior court judges who follow the law when ruling in
BUELLTON UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT
BOARD OF TRUSTEES