Solana Beach School District may offer in-person and virtual board meetings

The Solana Beach School District board at an in-person meeting in early 2020.
(Karen Billing)

Due to the pandemic, last year the governor conditionally suspended some of the provisions of the Brown Act, the biggest one being that members of the public no longer had the right to be physically in person at board meetings. Since last March, local school boards have utilized Zoom for meetings, allowing for more parents to tune into board business while prepping dinner or provide public comment from the comfort of home.

The governor’s suspension and executive order is set to go away as of Sept. 30 giving boards an option on how to proceed.

The Solana Beach School District has proposed using a hybrid in-person/livestream model: The board will return to an in-person venue and the public will have the option to come for the live show or attend virtually online.

However Assembly Bill 361, which would extend a state body’s ability to make meetings accessible electronically to the public through Jan. 31, 2022, has passed the legislature. If signed by the governor this week, Solana Beach would continue meeting virtually through February.

“We have appreciated the broader community involvement in the business of the school district. Our attendance has increased, both with staff and with parents and community members,” said SBSD Superintendent Jodee Brentlinger. “We want to continue to be able to encourage that participation.”

The meetings will no longer be held on Zoom, instead a camera in the board room will stream the meeting. The public will be allowed to address the board in person as well as provide written comments that will be read into the record.

The district plans to “field test” the new concept at the Sept. 23 special meeting and the first meeting with the new hybrid model would be the Oct. 14 regular board meeting.

There is no legal requirement for boards to continue virtual streaming or to allow members of the public to give comments virtually—historically, members of the public have been required to attend in-person to provide comments.

San Dieguito Union High School District has video recorded its meetings and posted them to YouTube for the last three years but it has not yet decided whether meetings will continue to be live-streamed. Interim Superintendent Lucile Lynch said they are monitoring the progress of Assembly Bill 361.

Neighboring Rancho Santa Fe School District and Del Mar Union School District have already returned to in-person board meetings for the last several months, offering no virtual option. Over 30 DMUSD community members have expressed an interest for Del Mar to have a virtual option as they said it is more convenient for parents to attend and expands public access.

Audio recordings of DMUSD’s meetings are available upon request.


3:38 p.m. Sept. 14, 2021: The legislature has approved an extension of the virtual meeting provision through Jan. 31, 2022. If signed by the governor this week, the district will continue meeting in a virtual manner until February.