Secondary school students to return Jan. 5

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Unified School District School Board held its first meeting since unanimously voting to open schools on Tuesday, Oct. 20, and were met with fireworks from Atascadero District Teachers Association President Christine Williams.

She opened the meeting voicing the displeasure of the teachers association due to comments made by Board members at the previous session on Oct. 6.

Williams explained that the ADTA expected the Board to approve the reopening plan. The reason for their statement at the previous meeting was more an issue about the lack of details provided to them from the District and how the Board members carried themselves in the meeting.

Williams’s contention was directed at the entire Board but aimed mostly at Trustee Ray Buban for not listening and misquoting the ADTA on October 6.

“During last week’s meeting, I said, ‘We have expressed these reservations in meetings, we have asked questions, we have asked for answers, and we have been told that the details will come.’ I also said, ‘We don’t trust a process where the details have been dismissed as operational or are to be determined later. Then when we try to determine those details through a process we find that the District doesn’t have answers or is evasive.’ I never said or asserted that the District hadn’t met with us — in fact, if you had listened to those words, you would find that we were criticizing the lack of details in our meetings, that when we had raised these concerns, all along, we were dismissed and told that they were coming,” Williams said. “It is unacceptable to have our words and actions represented in the manner that Mr. Buban did at the last Board Meeting. We take offense at how Mr. Buban referred to educators in his remarks. There used to be a time that this Board would stop a speaker from disparaging AUSD educators but apparently, that is only when other people do it. Mr. Buban’s behavior was the most offensive throughout the meeting.”

Williams continued for a few minutes touching on several more issues, including feeling undermined, demeaned, underappreciated and vilified due to comments from the earlier October board meeting. In closing, Williams asked for an apology from Trustee Buban.

Buban and the rest of the Trustees are advised to only respond to items on that meeting’s agenda and did not immediately respond to Williams. Still, the elephant in the room was addressed during Board comments.

Following a couple of quick comments from other Board members, Buban responded to the ADTA and Williams, saying, “Just so we’re really clear here, my responsibility is to the students and parents of this District, then the staff, then the administration. Name-calling, disparaging remarks, bullying, and threats will never silence me from doing what I believe and saying what I believe for the benefit of these children, just so we’re clear.”

It appears that the ADTA and Buban will remain in conflict for the time being. Following the meeting Tuesday night, the ADTA issued a statement on their Facebook page stating, “We are unsure what threats, intimidation, or bullying are involved when you call someone out for misrepresenting you, for disparaging your colleagues, your profession, and request an apology, but we heard Mr. Buban — he isn’t sorry.”

As for educational matters, it was a light meeting but did provide the most recent surveys sent to parents with children in the District between kindergarten and fifth grade. The survey comes in response to AUSD getting approved for the elementary waiver, meaning students could begin receiving in-person education as early as next month.

According to AUSD Superintendent Tom Butler, 52% of parents chose to keep their children in full distance learning, while 48% have decided to return to their classrooms.

In closing, the Board voted to move a teacher workday from Jan. 5 to Oct. 30 as a way to give teachers an extra day to set up their classrooms for the return of elementary students on Nov. 2 and 16.

This workday change also means that Atascadero Middle School and Atascadero High School will begin hybrid in-person schooling on Jan. 5 instead of Jan. 6.

To watch this or any board meeting in its entirety, check out the Atascadero School District’s Youtube page.

Getting through this together, Atascadero