Education / Schools

San Benito County Board of Education under investigation for Brown Act violation

It’s accused of not properly publicizing open meetings.

The San Benito County Board of Education has been accused of violating the Brown Act by not properly publicizing, or making accessible, four meetings it held in the past three months. 

On March 4, Andrew Sandoval sent San Benito County Office of Education Superintendent Krystal Lomanto and the Board of Trustees a letter calling attention to “substantial violations of the central provisions of the Ralph M. Brown Act.” 

“The San Benito County Board of Education did not provide a place for the public to join, view or participate in the meetings,” Sandoval claimed in his letter. “The agenda stated, ‘There will not be a physical location for this meeting.’ This was not true. The board did meet in person and certain members of the public were invited to participate in person. The agenda listed the meeting as ‘meeting by teleconference’ but the public was not given access to the teleconference information.”

Sandoval, a Salinas resident who said was invited to the meeting as a guest for an award presentation, claimed the alleged violations pertained to the Dec. 1 and Dec. 16, 2021 meetings, as well as the Jan. 20 and Feb. 10, 2022 meetings. 

Sandoval also claimed the county office failed to give a description of each item that would be discussed or acted upon. 

“I believe the public’s awareness and opportunity to comment and participate was deprived. With the proper posting and notice, the public would have been able to comment as these are very crucial items,” he wrote.

Lomanto told BenitoLink that the County Office of Education prepares and posts agendas in accord with the open meeting requirement of the Brown Act.

“A member of the public recently shared concerns,” Lomanto said. “Since receiving those concerns, additional information has been included in subsequent agendas.”

She added the Office of Education is “cooperating fully” with the complaint sent to the District Attorney’s Office. 

“Since this matter is still ongoing we have no further comment,” Lomanto said.

San Benito County District Attorney Candice Hooper confirmed her office did receive a complaint regarding this matter and that her office is “looking into it.”

 

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Jenny Mendolla Arbizu

Jenny is a Hollister native who resides in her hometown with her husband and son. She is a graduate of San Benito High School, and received her BA in Literature from UC Santa Cruz and MA in Education from San Jose State University. Jenny is a former elementary school teacher and has written for the Hollister Freelance, San Benito and South Valley magazines. She enjoys bringing informative and educational news to San Benito County, as well as spotlighting local community members and businesses. On any given day, she can be found performing with SBSC, singing with the Hollister VFW, or working out at Cold Storage CrossFit.