The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District (PRJUSD) met for the regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 12.

Before the first public caller, Chris Bausch stated that Monica Silva would translate Spanish to English for the caller. He was then informed the caller would instead be speaking English.

The caller, Yessenia Echevarria, began speaking in Spanish and was asked to pause while Silva could catch up translating.

Echevarria then replied in English, “I called hoping to speak in Spanish and have a certified translator through the school district translate what I was saying. Now, we are a school district that serves a major portion of Spanish speaking families. To not have someone on staff that is certified by the school district as a translator is problematic.”

She continued, “Monica is amazing to go ahead and say ‘okay, I’ll step in to fill in that shoe,’ but she is not a certified translator through the school district. I wanted to give a real moment, a teachable moment as to why if we were to have Hispanic families who only speak Spanish call and you all are not prepared to take those calls and throw someone in there last minute to translate for them even though they aren’t a certified translator through the school district that’s a problem.”

Echevarria went on to discuss her first reason for calling in, and that was the possible closure or move of Georgia Brown Elementary School, which was brought up at the 7-11 Committee meeting back on Dec. 7, 2020.

Echevarria and the callers after her expressed their concern for lack of transparency regarding the school and the outreach to the inclusion of families who go to Georgia Brown.

At the end of the comments, Chris Arend, board president, responded with the following, “Under the California Constitution, the official language of the State of California is English, and we conduct our business in English. We try to accommodate speakers who do not have sufficient command of English, but I want to remind everybody out there that if you have sufficient command of English, please speak in a language that we understand. That is also under the constitution the official language of the state of California.”

Curt Dubost, PRJUSD Superindent, responded later in the conversation and after some discussion by assuring the community that “We will make sure that we have a certified translator available for future meetings.”

The board motioned to approve all consent agenda items, which passed with a 7-0 vote.

The trustees motioned with a 6-1 (Baker no) vote to direct staff to update Resolution 20-14, Designation of Emergency Powers to the Superintendent due to COVID-19 with new dates to be voted on the Jan. 26 meeting.

In April 2020, the board voted to grant emergency powers to the superintendent, which allows him to “take all appropriate actions to address the threat of and respond to COVID-19, including but not limited to, supporting educational opportunities for District students to the extent feasible as well as other matters set forth in Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-26-20, including any amendments thereto.”

Board voted 7-0 to direct administration to rework bylaw 9400 and bring it to the Jan. 26 meeting for a first meeting. Per the agenda, “The Board will take this opportunity to review examples of self-evaluation tools.”

The bylaw, dated 1997, says the board will “annually conduct a self-evaluation in order to demonstrate accountability to the community and ensure that district governance effectively supports student achievement and the attainment of the district’s vision and goals.”

The board voted down agenda item I.4. The approval of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education for interim executive secretary services to the district.

The executive secretary appointed will assist the district with executive assistant duties.

The board came back with a new motion to table approval of agenda item I.4. to address several questions and clarifications made by board members.

The next PRJUSD Board Meeting is scheduled on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 5:30 p.m.

Special Grand Jury meeting scheduled for Jan. 19 at 4 p.m.