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New Committee to Review Moraga School District's Abuse Policies

Emotional comments and a new committee made their way out of tonight's Moraga School District Board meeting.

The recent storm of controversy over the sexual abuse of former Moraga School District students made for an, at times, emotional meeting of the district's Governing Board, Tuesday.

Visceral comments punctuated the opening of the Board's first meeting since media reports revealed that past district staff members illegally failed to report instances of abuse.

In response to the District's failures, board members voted 4-0, with Board Member Dennis Kelleher absent, to establish a Board Committee for Student Safety charged with "reviewing the District's current policies, practices and training regarding child abuse and mandated reporting..."  The committee is scheduled to present findings and recommendations to the Board on August 21, for potential adoption before the start of the new school year.

The committee will be made up of one board member, the superintendent, a representative from the Contra Costa County Child Abuse Prevention Council or Contra Costa County Department of Children and Family Services, a certificated and classified representative from each school, as well as a parent and administrator from each school.

Public speakers responding to the proposed committee insisted that an independent investigation be conducted into the previous failures to report the instances of abuse.  An investigative element was not included in the meeting's agenda analysis of the committee's establishment.  District Superintendent Bruce Burns did not directly respond to calls for an independent investigation, however, he indicated that the committee would, in fact, be asked to look back as part of its review of policies and procedures.

Ryan June 13, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Another blue ribbon committee! Good to see that they are adding another level of insulation between the MSD board and responsibility. Instead of taking this on themselves they will pull a bunch of people together to ensure that nothing bad can come back on them for their failures anymore. It's a time tested trick used by every branch of government but essentially does nothing.
Chris Nicholson June 13, 2012 at 07:35 PM
You should seek a seat on the committee and/or attend its meetings.
Ryan June 13, 2012 at 07:38 PM
I should but alas I am pro-transparency and therefore not a good fit. A committee on student safety when everyone just wants to know what happened, who knew, and why Walters got invited back. I do appreciate the forward thinking of the board to protect future and current students but I think that it was just a short sighted smoke screen to get people to go away.
Mack Sennet June 13, 2012 at 07:44 PM
But, pro-transparency is what they need. You would appear quite passionate about this issue. But, I understand. It's easier to cast stones in an anonymous forum than it is to publicly participate in the process.
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) June 13, 2012 at 08:01 PM
McGruff and Mack -- You both make good points and are obviously in the know, but your dependence on screen names does lessen the impact of your words. Why don't you "come out" and play?
Ryan June 13, 2012 at 08:07 PM
JD, I don't think you should ever ever ask someone to "come out and play" on a subject this personal. There are reasons people want their identities hidden and I believe you need to respect that. If the Patch has updated their user agreement to include "Moderator can ask for anonymous users to divulge their real names" then please post that in there. Until then, I'll stay anonymous but thank you for your concern.
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) June 13, 2012 at 08:18 PM
McG -- no one really knows how "personal" it is to you because no one knows who you are. Your posts suggest close, even firsthand knowledge of some of the aspects of this latest case, but who's to say for sure? While I agree people use many reasons to post anonymously, I chafe at the "hidden accuser" scent I catch from these and raise again the imagery of the hooded accuser in the dock, raising a finger at a defendant and nodding that "he's the one." And while you're right, our user agreement does not currently include language of the type you mention, such a requirement would make me feel a whole lot better about who is saying what and why -- and probably stop people from making some of the more irresponsible statements we do see from time to time. Concerned? Yes. You can put me down as concerned by anonymous posts. My invitation stands.
Ryan June 13, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Thank you for the invitation but I will politely decline. "Your posts suggest close, even firsthand knowledge of some of the aspects of this latest case, but who's to say for sure?" My posts suggest lots of things: Cover ups, felonious inaction, cronyism, and horrible judgement displayed by teachers. Most everything I have said (aside from personal opinions) are public records or have been written in the paper for all to read. To suggest to your readers that I know more than they do is quite interesting to me. I'm curious, did you extend this special invitation to others on this message board that also seem to have a close connection to this case, positive or negative? This is a small community so obviously many will have a close connection to the past and the present, why not invite all to share their real names. You seem to have zero'd in on me for some reason, care to elaborate on the lack of invitations to others? I have not threatened harm to anyone and only a few of my more choice posts have been flagged down, again what makes me so special? Should I post things to you like this? "2nd Generation Moraga 4:48 pm on Thursday, March 15, 2012 I said it once - I'll say it again - WHO LOVES YOU JD! "
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) June 13, 2012 at 09:02 PM
I routinely ask people to post under their true names. You are by no means special. I've given my reasons for asking that people do it. As it happens, many of the people who choose to post under screen names have attended our periodic coffee meetings or come up to me and introduced themselves in person. I do feel better knowing who they are. You are welcome to continue as you have been, of course, but hopefully I have expressed my preferences.
Andrew L. June 13, 2012 at 09:09 PM
I would say that one who posts anonymously, or quasi-anonymously, such as I, has no basis to cast aspersions on others who choose to post anonymously. While I'm sure some would say there was an abundance of "misused emotion" at last night's meeting, I for one welcome the response of the school board and think the new committee and other measures at least deserve to be given a chance. One very valid point that was made was that no matter how much one may favor full transparency (and I do), the school board is very limited in sharing with the public information involving personnel matters. Kudos too to Sean of Patch for fantastic reporting.
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) June 13, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Sean of Patch! I love it. Should have some David Lean theme music behind it, our guy riding into battle aboard a bedouin camel, shouting "Take no prisoners!" That's his moniker from now on. Thanks for the post, Andrew, and look for more from... "Sean... of Patch!"
Mack Sennet June 13, 2012 at 09:34 PM
I don't find this forum to be a wise venue for disclosing one's identity. Perhaps, you enjoy being yelled at or having someone confused for you being yelled at, but i find that behavior alarming. Your retelling of that story convinced me that anonymity is best on here. But, I haven't used my id to post rants about private citizens. Speaking out on an issue or about public figures iis one thing but hiding behind a screen name to call for private citizens to be fired or attacking their moral character is tacky.
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) June 13, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Mack -- Time and recurring occurrence have imbued me with a thick skin. Again, your choice to post under Mssr. Sennet's moniker or under your own is yours to make.
2nd Generation Moraga June 13, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Thanks for the shout out McGruff - that message was sent to JD after he deleted one of my posts...
2nd Generation Moraga June 13, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Lets see: If MSD puts together an internal team to investigate they are wrong because "how can they investigate themselves..." If they put together an independent team to investigate, they are wrong because " they will pull a bunch of people together to ensure that nothing bad can come back on them for their failures anymore...." Its unfortunate that a group of people in this town believe that no matter what the current SB or Superintendent does, they are wrong.
Jose August 12, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Aug 6 DRAFT Minutes of the work in progress are available for those following this. http://www.moraga.k12.ca.us/

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