Small group of parents stage protest at board meeting

A small crowd of protesters gathered in front of Del Mar Hills Academy before the first Del Mar Union School District board meeting since Superintendent Sharon McClain was released. About as many parents sat inside the multi-use room waiting for the April 14 meeting to begin, not participating in the protest.

Protesters carried signs criticizing trustees Annette Easton, Doug Perkins, Steven McDowell and Katherine White. As the trustees walked into the MUR from their closed session meeting, parents shouted "Resign! Resign!"

Board president Comischell Rodriguez, who voted against firing McClain, was not mentioned on any of the posters.

"I think she's [Comischell] at least trying to listen to the parents and trying to get the board to listen to the parents as well," said Ashley Falls parent Heidi Niehart. " I think she's doing a good job given the circumstances."

Wednesday night's meeting was the first for Interim Superintendent James Peabody, a superintendent from Julian Union High School District who has more than 40 years of experience in education.

"Welcome to DMUSD," Del Mar Hills parent Liz Shopes said to him during public comment. "Or maybe I should say, welcome to the jungle."

Peabody said he was delighted to be at the district and to help the school district and board through this transitional phase.

"I have taken the job because I love being involved in the process of education," Peabody said. "I'd like to have more to say but I've only been on the job for three days."

In his three days, Peabody said he has visited four school sites. He said he was impressed with the creativity of the programs and the "magic" that takes place between the students and their teachers.

Peabody has also met with PTA presidents at a district-wide PTA meeting.

"It is truly amazing to see the parent and community support for the district and schools," Peabody said.

Peabody did hear that there is residual anger from some parents during public comment over the board's decision to fire the last superintendent. Niehart and Carmel Del Mar parent Jill Steiner asked for the board's resignations.

"Rescind your reckless decision to terminate McClain or resign immediately," Steiner said.

Parent Liz Shopes said the district needs someone who can bring peace to disharmony, open communication, honesty, rational discussions, respect and trust.

"I hope you are going to be our interim hero," Shopes said to Peabody. "We want to move forward in a cohesive and positive manner and make this once again the great district it can be."

   
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