school board

Mayra Anguiano

On Wednesday, June 8, the Banning Unified School District Board of Education voted 3-2 to rescind its censure of Board Trustee Mayra Anguiano (area 2).

The censure — a formal reprimand during which Anguiano was prohibited from communicating with the superintendent, communicating with any district staff other than Board President Leslie Sattler or the superintendent’s executive secretary and excluded from participating in the board’s evaluation of the superintendent for the 2021-22 school year — had been in effect since its approval by a 3-2 vote on Jan. 8, 2022.

The censure was passed after Anguiano had suggested during the board’s Dec. 8, 2021 meeting that a public survey be taken as part of the board’s performance review of then-Superintendent Natasha Baker. According to the censure resolution, beginning the discussion of Baker’s assessment during an open meeting in which the topic was not on the agenda was a violation of the Brown Act, district policies and the superintendent’s employment agreement. The superintendent’s employment agreement requires that the “discussion of the superintendent’s evaluation to be properly agendized and held in closed session,” according to the resolution.

Through the resolution, the board also alleged that Anguiano also shared confidential closed session information about the superintendent with a third-party not authorized to receive such information.

At the June 9 meeting, Trustee Laura Troutman, who was participating through teleconference, opened the discussion about removing the censure, stating that she felt it was no longer necessary, as Baker is no longer with the district.

Baker left the district in April for a position at Fresno Unified School District. Later that month the board appointed Terrence Davis, then an assistant superintendent, as the district’s new superintendent.

“I feel it’s redundant. I feel most of our issues have been resolved and it is no longer needed,” Troutman said. “I feel it hinders the relationship between Anguiano and Davis. Also, I feel Anguiano should be a part of the superintendent evaluation. Because we are a board of five and it would be great for us to move forward without this resolution in place.”

When asked of his opinion Davis said, “I think sometimes there needs to be a new start, and sometimes there has to be an opportunity for that to happen. I would say, reading through the censure, the underlining reasons no longer exist. I think as a governance team it’s important for us to move collectively to build trust. If there are concerns of violations of the Brown Act, I think those are duly noted and there’s a process for that to occur separately.

“In my humble opinion, moving past the censure would benefit the whole team to continue to work together and build collaborativeness for our district,” he added.

Trustee Jason Smith said he agreed with Troutman and Davis but wanted to see greater accountability from each boardmember.

“I’m struggling hard with this one, because I do agree with Davis. We have to put this nonsense behind us,” Smith said before voting to rescind the censure. “We didn’t get here because of one person, we got here because it was affecting all of us. I’m going to take a leap of faith and vote to rescind it regardless of how I feel.”

Before voting, Board President Leslie Sattler asked Anguiano if she takes responsibility for the censure.

“It has come to my attention that what the idea of the censure was was to silence someone, and that was not the purpose of it at all,” Sattler said. “I feel after much soul searching and reading this resolution again that there’s accountability for both sides, the three who voted for it and two who voted against it. My curiosity is are you taking responsibility for the censure at all.”

Anguiano answered, “No evidence was brought forward for the accusations against me and I believe it was done illegally. I have a right to a public hearing and I was not given the opportunity, and the community that I represent was not involved.”

Ultimately, Troutman, Smith and Anguiano voted to rescind the censure while Sattler and Trustee Lucy Martinez-Lara voted against rescinding the censure.

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