PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District (PRJUSD) met at 8:30 a.m. this morning Sat. Jan. 30. to continue discussions regarding the Grand Jury Report “Paso Robles School District: A Cautionary Tale.”

At the previous Grand Jury meeting on Jan. 19, the board requested staff bring suggestions for potential law firms if voted to seek legal counsel in their response to the Grand Jury Report.

During today’s meeting, the board approved to seek legal counsel for their response with a 5-1 vote, with Board President Chris Arend voting no and Lance Gannon not present. 

Arend voted not to seek legal counsel because he would rather have the funds go elsewhere in the district to benefit the students. 

After some discussion regarding which firm to move forward with, the board voted 6-0 approval to seek counsel from Jeffrey Minnery and Linda Somers Smith from Adamski Moroski Madden Cumberland & Green LLP with a $5,000 budget cap.

Before discussing agenda item D.2. Grand Jury Report: Draft Response from the Board of Education, Trustee Tim Gerhart mentioned he had received many comments from people regarding new board members and their knowledge of events leading to the Grand Jury report.

Gerhart asked, “The questions remains, have you folks had the time to go into our history, pull out the different information items about these different items in the district office, and educated yourself well enough to be able to do this, or are you relying on rumor and hearsay?”

Newly elected board member Dorian Baker responded with, “I was sitting in the boardroom for the majority of this. I was very involved, so I feel I have the institutional knowledge to sit here today and be a part of this discussion.”

Gehart said Baker had been there only three years, to which Baker responded with, “not just three years. Many years.”

Joel Peterson, a PRJUSD former board member from 2012 to 2020, called in during public comment to address agenda item D.2.

Peterson said, “I’m here to tell you that many board members, perhaps all at one point, spoke up at meetings and asked the right questions both in open and closed doors about several of these decisions. The board member who thinks he was acting alone knows he wasn’t. Look at the meeting minutes, the binders, the budgets full of notes, and the record. There was push back. I know because I was there — ultimately, the board and the district were misled in several areas. Specifically in regards to the projected budget and enrollment.”

The board moved forward to modify a drafted response to the Grand Jury Report written by Board President Arend. 

Arend’s draft was initially presented to the board at the Jan. 19 meeting and was determined to be used as a starting point to begin drafting their response to the Grand Jury Report. 

Trustees went through the draft, evaluated to make edits regarding language, and refined details of the document. 

The special meeting was slated to be adjourned at 12:30 p.m.

At F4 in the response document, the board motioned to continue the meeting at another date due to the time. 

The next special meeting will be held Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 4:30 p.m. to continue drafting the district’s response to the Grand Jury Report and discuss the next steps. 

At the end of the meeting, before adjournment, Superintendent Curt Dubost gave the following statement:

“I need to make a public apology. Last night my office made an error and sent a communication that was intended to go to Paso Robles Daily News. There was a miscommunication between myself and my assistant over the word Press, and she, in error, sent it to the Paso Press. It was quickly corrected. A formal letter of apology has been sent, but I wanted to publicly acknowledge that error and apologize to the Paso Robles Press.”

Dubost was referring to a cease-and-desist letter claiming defamation against KPRL and Paso Robles Daily News, which reported several inaccuracies. 

The letter was mistakenly sent to Paso Robles Press rather than Paso Robles Daily News.

See the article below to view the letter of apology and cease-and-desist letter and more information on the two publications’ confusion. 

PRJUSD Cease-and-Desist Letter Claims Defamation Against Paso Robles Daily News and KPRL