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Bullying by the Superintendent

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 02-19-2013 | in Government, Ethics, Vallejo, Human Relations, Critical Thinking,

Vallejo City Unified School District has problems with bullying on its campuses. Parents protested about it to Superintendent Bishop and the School Board without positive results. I don't expect much positive action from Bishop, because she is part of the problem.

Bishop targeted me for bullying over a trivial dispute about my August 22, 2011 public record request to see records of the Districts professional training for teachers and staff how to deal with students of color. Alana Shackelford directed me to the District’s website that had an outline and schedules of the training, but no records of completed training sessions. By email and telephone Shackelford insisted the District did not have any other records of the training.

On the telephone, Bishop also claimed the District did not have other records of training. I said it was unlikely the school district would not keep records of this type training. Then, she reversed herself and admitted the District had videotapes of the training and she was making CD production copies of it. She asked me to delay reviewing the videotapes until she completed this task. I agreed to the extension although I was skeptical about the reliability of the verbal agreement with a person that just lied to me.

Twenty days passed and the District had not delivered the videotapes for my review. The California Public Records Act (CPRA) requires the superintendent to write a request for extending the time to deliver records for a period of no more than 14 days. I petitioned Bishop to comply with the CPRA immediately. After that, the District did not communicate information to me about my requests or other matters from its Vallejo headquarters as required by law. DWK law firm in San Francisco communicated information to me about my record requests that it alleged was from the District.

DWK declared in an October 4, 2011letter that it represented the District regarding my August 22, 2011 records request. A DWK attorney asserted the District completed its duty regarding my record request when Shackelford directed me to the information on the website. He claimed the District did not have other records of the training. He warned that if I filed a lawsuit, the District would set out his version of the facts before the Court and probably it would find I filed a frivolous lawsuit. Therefore, Bishop was denying the existence of videotape records that she admitted having three weeks earlier.

I asked what legal authority permitted DWK to represent the District in this administrative matter. DWK responded, “With regard to your concerns regarding our representation of the District, I can assure you that our office has been retained to represent the District with regard to your Public Record Act requests and that we are authorized by the District Board and Dr. Bishop to speak on the District’s behalf in this matter.” They made a false claim, because the School Board does not have authority to approve a local public records policy that provided slower and less access to records than the CPRA prescribed or approve policy only for my record requests.

I sent a request to the District, “I request to see the public records in Vallejo City Unified School District files of the contract or document designating or authorizing DWK law firm to act as Vallejo School District’s public records agent for making responses to public records requests submitted by Kenneth Brooks.”

DWK/Bishop claimed my record request was ambiguous and impossible to answer. I repeated my request in more detail and they made similar evasive responses. Finally, DWK wrote, “As previously advised, the ambiguity in your request is with regards to the authority granted to DWK. Your request could be interpreted to imply that the District has delegated its obligation to respond to your PRA requests to DWK. If that is your assumption, then, there are no documents responsive to your request because the District has not delegated that obligation.”

DWK/Bishop's response confirmed an important fact no matter they confused it with irrelevant conjecture. The School Board had not published a local public record policy authorizing DWK to represent or speak for the District regarding my public record requests as previously claimed by DWK.

DWK/Bishop created another deception about the videotapes of the training to suggest they recently discovered evidence the videotapes may exist. October 14, 2011, they wrote, “As for the video, the District is still working on obtaining whatever recording(s) it may have.” Also, “The videographer for the training has been out of town for 7-10 days and has not responded to the District’s inquiry as to what video exists.” So, two months after the training sessions and ten days after denying any records of it, they casually mention knowledge of a “videographer for the training” who now is on vacation. Their changed position reeks of deception.

Later, they reported the District finished compiling the videotape records onto a CD and I had to pay $234.16, to receive a copy of the CD, to view the CD, or to view the videotapes. They were holding my right to view the videotapes hostage to a ransom equal to the money Bishop spent compiling the videotape records on CDs for use by the District. The money claim was more bulling than concern for costs. Bishop was paying DWK $255.00 per hour for communicating with me about record requests although managing public records requests is a duty in Shackelford's job description.

I refused to pay the ransom and they dropped the payment requirement saying I could view the CD, the videotapes, or both by appointment. I made an appointment to view only the videotapes. Nevertheless, they had only a CD available for my review when I arrived at the Superintendent’s Office. Shackelford dismissed my questions about the missing videotapes, saying the attorney's would contact me. A few days later, DWK asserted the CD was an exact copy of the videotapes as if his assurance satisfied the District's duty to deliver the videotapes.

Bishop and her aides directed me to make an appointment specifically to see the videotapes and drive to District headquarters to review videotapes when they had no intention of delivering the tapes for my review. I cannot describe the mindset and standards of morality that conviced them this was acceptable professional conduct. This behavior, false statements, arrogation of School Board authority, and bullying disqualify them for the positions they hold in the District.

The School Board damages the integrity of the District's regulations and policy if it excuses this conduct by the superintendent and the District's general counsel while punishing comparable behavior by students. Therefore, the School Board must remove them from their positions with the District.

Obama and inequality

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 02-19-2013 | in Government, Race, Democracy, Critical Thinking, Freedom,

President Barack Obama quoted principles of human equality and liberty rights from the Declaration of Independence as the theme for his second inaugural address. He asserted that fidelity to our founding principles is important if we are to meet future challenges to our way of life. However, I question his vision for the future that relies on appeals to the authority of custom and to uncertain liberty principles.

"Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional -- what makes us American -- is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

(President Obama inaugural speech 1/21/2013)

Obama's remarks wrongly suggest the founders wrote the Declaration of Independence and Constitution for the same purpose and that both expressed the same principles of human equality.

Writings during the 17th and 18th century affirmed ideas of human equality and personal liberty rights over principles of inherited privilege or servitude that were common during Europe's centuries of feudalism. The Continental Congress included those emerging principles in the 1776 Declaration of Independence as one justification for ending rule over
Americans by the British king. A year later, the same Continental Congress asserted different ideas of liberty in the Articles of Confederation that continued slavery. Ten years later, delegates from the States wrote in the preamble of the constitution:

"We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Nevertheless, this Constitution approved slavery and the slave trade in the American Republic. Therefore, the founders created the United States Republic on constitutional principles of inherited liberty and inherited servitude more like feudalism laws than like principles of human equality expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

Human equality is a self-evident condition in a society only if all people have liberty and human rights at birth. Otherwise, the people shift authority over human rights from them to government when they limit liberty to certain groups. The Declaration of Independence described government's role in a free society: "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." A society is not a free where the government has authority to grant or withhold liberty.

The ability to reason and to decide self-image, worldview, and survival are defining traits of humans. All reasoning takes place in the reasoning center of the individual based on his or her self-image, interests, knowledge, and worldview. Nobody has the ability to reason within another person's reasoning center, store of knowledge or worldview. Liberty is an expression of human equality, because equals lack authority to decide thought or action for one another. Therefore, all humans have self-directed reasoning ability at birth, and they are equal.

Where principles of human equality were self-evident and accepted in society, the people respected one another's human rights. In other societies, deviant personalities took advantage of confusion from ignorance and fear to set up a superior ruling status for them over other humans.

America's social policy and law made liberty a privilege of race. As a result, racial-group identity exerted undue influence on self-image of Americans. This corruption of self-image is common in American society where most people still commonly name race when describing themselves and strangers. However, they cannot reason from a vague racial-group image decided by others. Therefore, race-corrupted self-images reduce people's reasoning skills and ability for self-government.

Government also extended the Constitution's protection of human rights to corporations as artificial persons. This government action showed contempt for the principle of humans having unalienable life and liberty rights endowed by god or by nature. The Constitution approved in 1789 refused liberty to some humans based on skin color so wealthy families and corporations could profit by enslaving them. Then, in 1886, the Supreme Court approved corporations as artificial persons and advanced their economic interests and powers over all workers no matter their race label. This government policy against the people's human rights should have motivated Americans to examine the foundations of their culture for uncertain and contradictory moral principles and change them. It did not. Americans continued to support old ideas of human inequality.

A big threat to liberty is Americans' willingness to surrender self-image and personal autonomy for an uncertain group-image they believe will entitle them to economic advantages. Those expected advantages decided by others are fleeting for most and costly compared to freedom they surrender. Any social principle, custom, or law that destroys or weakens personal autonomy threatens liberty. All assumptions against human equality threaten liberty. Loyalty to any unexamined custom or authority threatens liberty. Americans will secure their liberty when they adopt true principles of human equality and end allegiance to founding principles of racism and inequality.

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