Testimony of Diane Payne to the BOE, May 28, 2020

The Board has arbitrarily changed the rules for public speaking during this difficult time. Health and safety requirements forced the remote meeting platform but there is no health need requiring a reduction in speaking time from three minutes to two minutes. Nor does the number of speakers per topic have health consequences. To change these procedures because you can is a deliberate diminishing of public participation. Please reinstate the pre-pandemic speaking policies. Please inform the public of your decision on this request.
Action Items 38 and 39 are for the renewals of two charter schools. My first question about these two Action Items: why was there no CSO report at the Committee meeting nor this Action Meeting for these two schools? This is the first time there has been no CSO report provided. Again, this is the very worst time for reducing information available to the public about Board decisions involving millions of dollars.
The Board has taken a laudable vocal role in advocating for funding AND charter reform. Yet, this Board still fails to even raise questions or awareness about charter schools’ performance, CEO salaries, manipulation of demographics, and more when schools come up for charter renewal. It IS within your purview to question all aspects of charter school performance. Charter school operators should have to answer to the Board and the public (who supply their operating tax dollars) for every aspect of performance and budget.
Please vote no on these two renewals until a full district presentation has been provided. Please address all concerns about performance and safety in these presentations.