Possible Censure for Outspoken Pasadena Board Member

The Pasadena Board of Education has called for the possible censure of board member Scott Phelps after being accused of confidentiality agreement violations following public statements made to the media and on Facebook in June, writes Joe Piasecki at the Pasadena Sun.

Phelps has also been accused of obstructing efforts to hire a superintendent for the district.

According to the complaint filed against Phelps, he made “disparaging comments” about former PUSD superintendent candidate and U.S. Department of Education Assistant Secretary for elementary and secondary education Thelma Melendez on the Star-News website, Facebook and in the newspaper, writes Brian Charles at the Pasadena Star-News.

Melendez subsequently withdrew her candidacy and the board “lost” the opportunity to interview one of its candidates, according to the complaint.

A 4-2 vote decided this week to hold a censure hearing on Tuesday and while members Ramon Miramontes and Kim Kenne came to Phelps’ defense, it didn’t help the increasingly entrenched divisions within the board.

Phelps, who was absent from the meeting, decried the effort as political payback for criticizing one of five superintendent candidates who took herself out of the running following his comments.

“Since late June they have plotted their revenge. This censure [attempt] is their revenge,” Phelps said.

“This censure request is obviously not good for the board and the district. We have a new superintendent who is inheriting an increased achievement gap,” Phelps said. “We have plenty of constructive ways to spend our time.”

Phelps characterized the censure as politically motivated and that members of the board were seeking “revenge” for effectively derailing Melendez’s bid to head the PUSD.

Miramontes and Kenne and joined Phelps to offer up a counter punch by sending a request to censure PUSD board president Renatta Cooper to the school district’s attorney.

Censure requires support of five board members, which is unlikely in either case under current battle lines.

However, with four votes the board may issue a letter of reprimand, though they are looking at more severe restrictions.