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School Boards and the Public's Right to Know

June 26, 1988

When The Times editorialized about the Huntington Beach City School Board ("Public's Right to Know," June 19), your readers were left with the impression that all five board members favor this shroud of secrecy.

According to the board's attorney, I am not legally permitted to discuss the actions and votes that occurred in closed session. However, I can state that I agree with your editorial position on the public's right to know.

I endorse the principle of the Ralph M. Brown Act, which states, in part: "The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know."

While the Brown Act defines a few areas that can be discussed in closed session, its intent was to ensure that the boards' "actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly." It is indeed ironic that this law is being used to the opposite effect.

I have served on the Huntington Beach City School Board since December of 1987. In these six months I have attempted to be an open, responsible elected official. Many times I have found myself disagreeing with the board majority. Those dissenting votes reflect my desire to more fully represent the parents and families in our district. It is not easy to stand alone, in closed session or in public, but that is my duty to the people who elected me.

I hope The Times will make a better effort to let the public know that someone on our board is sensitive to the public's right to know.

I did find one other area where I was in full agreement with your editorial. Bob Mann will be on the ballot in November of 1989. I also hope the voters will remember my actions.

ROBERT J. MANN

Trustee

Huntington Beach City School District

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