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August 11, 2020



It is a tough time to be on these boards. Thanks to the outgoing people and thank you for the new people stepping up. The public focus has never been greater.

Just Visiting

For those interested in the SM Union High School District, the Daily Journal appears to have miscounted. There are two seats up for election, Land's, and the one Friedman is vacating. Incumbents are tough to unseat in these things, so it's likely that Kaufman and Zuniga (and any other entrants who are in by the end of today) will fight over the second.

McKinley Mom

Yesterdays Burlingame School Board Meeting was disastrous.

About 20-30 teachers spoke for 2 minutes each during the open comment part of the meeting. None of them want to return to onsite teaching. There was not one teacher who spoke up that wanted to return.

The board is a mess. Incompetence is common, even the ones that have been serving since 2017. They are all puppets just parroting back what the other one said.

One Board Trustee went onto to say that they didn't know how things work and what the next steps were. They asked for help from some of the other trustees and no one rescued her so she just kept talking.

The Board and District knew about the pandemic since March and little has been done in terms of planning for the opening of the school year. They seem uninformed, and keep using excuses that the state guidance changes every week.

One teacher that has taught in the district for 20-30 year (can't remember the actual length), spoke up and said there needs to be some deep difficult questions discussed to unveil how things got to this point. She said it didn't happen over the last weeks, months, or even few years. She indicated that there has been a shift put in place a good while back.

It seems like the Board needs to please the Superintendent. Most of them all seem to just stay in their comfort zone and just agree with each other. The board is very weak and I don't see any of them going out on a limb to get things back on course.

Chris the new Superintendent is very cool, calm and level headed, he doesn't seem to get sucked into the drama or chaos. I wonder what he thinks of the deficient board?

Measure Oh No

Do we still have to pay the Measure O parcel tax if there is no in person teaching taking place?

Barking Dog

NO on 15

Superintendent Gary Chalmers-Blinded by the Transparency

The public demands transparency.

While it has been a challenging time, the SMUHSD Board's duty to represent the constituents, not defend the administration.

The SMUHSD Board continues to be a rubber stamp of anything put in front of it by the Administration. The issues are not vetted by the Board as confidence has been granted to the individuals at the top of the Administration.

"Incumbents are tough to unseat."

"Kaufman and Zuniga will have to fight over the second seat"

This sounds like victory has already been declared and the incumbent can go home a winner.

Incumbents have to "run on the record," and will be required to both defend and explain the decisions and those of the Board.

The 100% Against 100% Distance Learning group organized over 3000 residents (rapidly) in response to the Board’s Credit/No Credit decision and the abrupt shift to online leaning hastily announced at the meeting in early July 2020. That is a strong voting block of motivated parents.

The explosions over on Next Door about issues in the district show a pattern of families who are not happy with the current situation or the disclosure of ongoing issues in the schools (Lack of Transparency)

Over the past four years, the SMUHSD has had a significant transparency issue. The SM Daily Journal's Sue Lempert called out the SMUHSD Board for being outdated.

In 2020, there is one incumbent and two challengers running for two seats.

If the incumbent wants to keep the seat, he may need to break from the pack (soon) and separate himself from their decisions.

We know one thing for sure, the SMUHSD Board will have at least one new member who is going to look at old issues with fresh eyes.

Just Visiting

Was someone declaring victory? I've met Land, but I don't "know" him. I don't have a dog in this fight, but selective quoting (like dropping "it's likely") isn't a great way to win your point.

By all means, the challengers may unseat Land. And more power to them if they are able to do so--that's not an easy task in a year that voters have a lot of other things to focus on.

If I'm not mistaken Dwyer, Land, Friedman (resigning), and Kaufman (running) are all from Burlingame, making Burlingame over-represented in SMUHSD--even if Land were to lose. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but interesting. Of course not all of the kids in Burlingame go to BHS, but less than 1500 of the more than 8000 students in the district do. It's a wonder there aren't more candidates from San Mateo, or any from Millbrae, San Bruno, Foster City, or Hillsborough.

Linda Lees Dwyer

First, I will look into the email issue. My email had better be coming to me!

I am not a part of a pack. This is definitely not a 5/0 board. Look at the votes-look at credit/no credit and a lot of others. There is (I hope) rubber in my car tires--not my spine or brain. Come to the meetings, email, share your ideas, the problems you see..we represent you and I take that very seriously. Linda

Barking Dog

Linda just stop.
Once again the SMUHSD Board has failed the students and their parents. Disappointing as usual, but not shocking, as this is nothing new. Business as usual for the SMUHSD Board. Glad you sleep at night, cause I dont, as I watch my children worry and stress about 'distance learning' with their children, all while trying to work, keep food on the table and a roof over their head.

Superintendent Gary Chalmers-Go to the Zoom tape for the facts!


SMUHSD Board Meeting April 16, 2020
The Grades and Credit/No Credit debate.

Note: The video of the Board meetings is a game changer. The evidence, language, words, and body language is right here for the public!

Trustee Lees Dwyer and President Friedman did take a strong stand for issuing grades during the Board vote.

Lees Dwyer and Friedman fought for their constituents. As board members you are individuals, but you are part of the group. When individuals in the group or the Administration are in violation of the law, policy, or ethics, you have an individual obligation to act.

While these are difficult time, honesty and transparency would contribute to a calming environment. The district continues to be plagued by a significant lack of honesty and transparency going back into recent years that continues to confuse and divide the public.

Specifically, the 100% Against 100% Distance Learning group of over 3000 residents was formed in response to this significant lack of honesty and transparency in the information presented to the Board by the Administration. This is just one (a significant one) of many of these incidents where the Administration present information that it knows is not true.

The Board has been a rubber stamp on issues brough by the Administration. The Board has trusted the Administration to act in an honest and ethical manner.

It has not.

It’s time for the Board to do its job and root out those who have failed to present facts and evidence in an ethical manner.

The following-from the Zoom video- illustrates this troubling Credibility Gap- that took place during the Credit/No Credit debate.

Trustee Lees Dwyer was visibly frustrated by the Board’s failure to listen to and act to support its constituents (those who actually live in the district) and reminded the Board that the public elected the Board to represent them. (starting at 5:07:00)

The administration presented as fact, issues regarding grading and college admissions that were untrue. For example, the Administration stated (as fact) that student opting for the Credit/No Credit option when grades were available would suffer a negative consequence during college admissions. There is no evidence to support this allegation. It was used to push the Board towards a single choice.

The Administration included in its proposals, a set of “pro and con statements” on the alternatives, that had no factual basis. The Administration wrote all of the pro and con statements, which presented all of the options in a negative light, except Credit/No Credit. The pro/con statements directed the Board directly to the Credit/No Credit decision.

The Board voted 2-2-1 on the Credit/No Credit issue with Trustee Land abstaining.

The Board was locked and depended on facts and the truth from the Administration to make its decision.

At 5:07:24 Trustee Lees Dwyer requests the administration to provide more information on the additional Grading options. Trustee Lees Dwyer requests that Dr. Skelly inform her of his other grade option besides Credit/No Credit. Dr. Skelly sidesteps the issues and points to false data.

At 5:08:15 Trustee Friedman also requests Dr. Skelly to explain the alternative grade option HE wrote called (there were multiple options of Grades-Credit/No Credit) Compassionate Grades. This option would direct teachers to use a broad and compassionate view when issuing grades to all students.

Dr. Skelly looked at the 2-2-1 vote already on the table and knew it he explained the proposal, that Trustee Land would vote for grades, and the vote would be 3-2 in favor of Grades.

Dr. Skelly fails to respond with facts to Trustee Friedman’s question. (5:08:15)- Dr. Skelly instead starts to list opinions such as litigation over grades, (which he knows is not true), but saying litigation is a buzzword to Board members. He knows that there is no litigation over grades.

Dr. Skelly’s response (without facts) persuades Trustee Land to vote for Credit/No Credit and the vote falls 3-2. No Grades

What do we now know?

The SAT’s are gone as a component of college admissions.
College admission in the fall of 2020 is going to be heavily based on student grade and the courses they have taken.

The district suffers from a Credibility Gap between what is actually happening on the ground vs. what is being reported to the Board by the administration.

These are the facts.

The Administration are your employees. They work for you. They are not golf, lunch, or presentation partners, they are employees.

The Palo Alto District hired an independent law firm to investigate its administration and the outcome was sweeping legal changes to practices and procedures inside the district.

The Cozen-O’Conner Law Firm acted as legal investigators representing the Board, not the administration. They were therefore was able to investigate administrators (under the penalty of perjury) and root out illegal practices that were damaging to the district.

The PAUSD now has mandated transparency as a result.

It is the Board’s duty get to the truth on all issues.

Just Visiting

Good for you Ms. Dwyer. I disagreed with your vote on credit/no-credit, but I recognize that you voted what you thought was right after considering the options available.

We don't live in a binary, right/wrong world--elected officials, even (maybe particularly) local officials, have difficult decisions to make and its stunning how many people are unable to see their neighbors as humans doing the best they can.

So thanks, Ms. Dwyer, for your service. Don't let the chatter get you down.

Barking Dog

Change needs to be made in the Administration level. As always, thanks Sup Chalmers, your info and insight is fantastic
Be a leader Ms Dwyer and initiate a process to start the change.
Anything else is just lip service.


Looks like no additional candidates for either board have filed per the DJ update article today.


Linda, thank you for looking into the email fiasco. Something isn't right and it would be good to know who started this.


Lets just leave this very boring topic. with the exception of a few worried about their poor investments, leave. Nobody Cares.
Seriously, nobody cares.
Don't let the door hit you where the Good Lord Split you.

No WiFi-No School -Superintendent Gary Chalmers

It was reported Friday that 10% of the SMUHSD student population does not have WiFi connectivity to engage in school.

These students are from the most needy families and will miss school until a remedy is in place.

The issue has been known since March. The Board has continued to yell and scream the words "Equity" (yet not much more than yell and scream) yet nothing.

This isn't a debate about on the ground or distance learning. It's a statement about being prepared to deliver on day #1.

Its like waking outside on the first day of school and the district finds that it has no school busses to transport students.

"Busses? Who forgot to order busses?"

Despite a clear understanding of the issue, there was little to no movement on preparation to open school until late July.

It almost as good as forgetting to order books.

At the next Board meeting, we expect to hear the usual "you've worked so hard!" and self congratulatory statements of we pulled it off!"

As some 700-800 students sit at home without a connection to learning, the Board should be demanding answers from the Administration who continues to blame FedEx and a late delivery.

This is one of the wealthiest school districts in the state if not the country.

Why do we look like an episode of the Simpsons?


I people do not ask for help, no help will come. I am 100% sure that if there were "professionals" managing the SMUHSD funding would be easily achieved.
Oracle, Facebook, every other Valley IT Company would welcome the opportunity to provide WI-FI, and lap tops to all Public Schools.
Especially the SM
What is wrong with the SMUHSD?
They do not care about anything other than their Political Future.
Change basic job requirements.

The Loss of BHS Traditions -Gore Tell-All

The Board has an obligation to direct the Administration and an expectation that the individuals were conduct themselves in an honest and ethical manner. The Administration has a legal fiduciary and ethical obligation to present to the Board all information relevant to decision-making.

When the Administration intentionally delays, withholds, misleads, or mischaracterizes information and/or evidence, those administrators are violating their legal responsibility to the Board and engaging in fraud against the public.

The public has an expectation that when the Board becomes informed that the Administration and/or an Administrator has engaged in “delaying, withholding, misleading, or mischaracterizing” information that s/he has submitted to the Board as the truth or fact, that Administrator should be reprimanded or removed.

It is the duty of the Superintendent to become personally informed of issues presented to the Board and take responsibility for any negligent actions of his/her subordinates. An individual who practices Plausible Deniability by placing a fire war of distance between themselves and essential information to establish a legal claim of ignorance is not leading.

An Administrator who is knowingly presenting false information as fact to the Board is wasting taxpayer funds and damaging the public’s trust of the District.

At the time she was advanced to the Board to be re-appointed as Principal at Burlingame High School, Di Yim had demonstrated for an extensive period of time over a large number of issues that she was incapable of leading the school. This included some 30 Burlingame families who spoke to the Board in April 2015 of Yim’s continued failure to create a master schedule where students could access courses they needed.

Principal Yim went on at least six “education junkets” during her first two years as the BHS Principal. Yim continued to attend these Learning Forward Conferences, instead of funning the campus. SMUHSD’s Superintendent Laurence was also at these conferences, hosting “Welcome to Learning Forward” mixers. Laurence was named the “Absentee Superintendent” by members of the SMUHSD Board. Ironically, after leaving the SMUHSD, former Superintendent Laurence became the President of the Board of Learning Forward Organization.

Principal Yim was reported for “inappropriate touching” for giving Superintendent Laurence a backrub in front of other employees prior to Board meeting. Her sex charged “Dick in the Box” performance during the Little Big Game Rally should have been enough evidence that she lacked the judgement to lead a high school. She was reprimanded for her actions and then lied to Superintendent Skelly stating that it “wasn’t her fault Despite these and many other events, including highly questionable fiscal decisions at the site level, the District Administration advanced Di Yim to be appointed for a third term as BHS Principal.

Members of the Burlingame Parents Group were working full time, informing the Administration and Board to have Yim removed as she was destroying as many BHS traditions as she could find.

One teacher remarked, “Yim wants to make sure that there will be no historical or institutional memory of the traditions of this school.”

Allowing Principal Yim to return for a third year “finished off” an era of BHS and made its environment unrecognizable to alumni. Traditions, customs, and people were gone.

In the years prior, BHS belonged to the students and the community with faculty that embraced the community.

The public relies upon the Board to have access to information and make decisions in the best interest of the students, parents, and taxpayers of the district. When information is blocked from the Board, they cannot make proper decisions.

The failure of the District Administration in supporting Di Yim to a third year at BHS principal as well as suppress important information regarding what was actually taking place at BHS has cost the school and its current parents and students the deep history and traditions of Burlingame High School.

Its Time for the Facts -KRN


As a Board member, since you addressed the issue here, the free speech door is open and I expect to not receive more retaliation for speaking up.

You know that the issue is much deeper than emails. While the public communicates with the members of the Board and the Board may listen, the Board ONLY relies upon the information provided by the Administration.

When the administration withholds information and/or intentionally misleads the Board, then the Board is prevented from making an effective decision.

I have the emails and internal documents of the District from public record requests. These essential facts were not provided to the Board. The individual who withheld these documents had an extreme conflict of interest as they sat as both judge and jury.

The documents show a much different picture than the statements made by the Board Members and Superintendent over the years. Statements made based on the information provided to the Board. This is both a complex and interesting issue.

My removal from Burlingame High School in 2015-2016 is a perfect example of this situation. Despite an outpouring of support from students, parents, and the community, the Board ONLY listed to the information provided by the Administration.

It turns out that the information provided to the Superintendent and the Board by Principal Yim and the District Administration was not accurate (not even close) or truthful. The District Administration withheld information from the Board that should have brought reprimands and firings to members of the administration.

The 2500 students, parents, and alumni who signed a petition and the entire student and parent population who walked out of their classes in protest on January 22, 2016 were not wrong. The evidence in the withheld documents show what "actually transpired" on the campus.

The evidence that was provided to the Board (by the Administration) is in direct conflict with the written documents that illustrate what transpired on the campus.

Why did these leaders withhold the evidence?

Superintendent Skelly has stated that "he was new to the SMUHSD at the time, he did not know anyone at BHS and he did not investigate any of the issues." He relied on the information provided to him by his administrators.

According to SMUHSD communications, the legal and investigation expenses related to these actions is now well over $200,000.

If the Board and Administration is going to stand up and mandate honest and ethical actions from its student, then it needs to actually model these values in its actions.

The missing $60K-Superintendent Gary Chalmers

Another $60k wasted. Caught by the Board!

Why was the Administration trying to hide the additional $60K expense?

During the August 20 Board meeting, the District Administration attempted to "pull a fast one" in its report to the Board regarding the opening of schools.

At 21:20::(marK) President Friedman has to ask "why the expenses for Independent Study jumped from $100k to $160K to provide for the Edgenuity software that everyone hates.

President Friedman states that he was extremely concerned as "he had been in multiple meeting with the Administration where he was promised, multiple times, that the contract with Edgenuity was limited to $100k.


At the May and June Board Meeting, the Administration promised the offering of the UC-SCOUT program offering CP and AP courses to our students, free of charge.

In July, the Administration blocked FREE UC Scout Program. (Students can take SCOUT, if they individually pay $400 per course) Equity?

In August 2020, the taxpayers lost (an additional) $60k to provide a system that students and parents have reported is "extremely sh%*ty"

The Board expressed "concern" with the Administration over this decision.

If Trustee Lees Dwyer and President Friedman had not reviewed the expense report, this would have been "swept under the rug."

The SMUHSD Administration KNEW they spent $60K that was not budgeted and made NO EFFORT to inform the Board of this extreme cost overrun when a FREE alternative was available.

Why isn't the Administration MANDATED to disclose cost overruns to the Board?

If this were city government and the Chief of Police attempted to "slide" a $60K expense past the Board, what would happen?

We know this is not the first of these cost issues... and it won't be the last.

Guardians of the Public Trust- KRN

“The wheels of justice turn slowly but grind exceedingly fine.”

Over the past four years, since my Involuntary Transfer from BHS, I have been a target or reprisals and retaliation by the SMUHSD for properly and legally reporting Civil Rights violations. I have been issued three employment write-ups by the district office administration, placing me on a path to termination. I have been verbally threatened with termination for making allegedly making public statements regarding the negligence of the SMUHSD and its employees. These actions (questioned by the SMUHSD) have all been deemed “protected activities” and Constitutional rights by the United States Office of Civil Rights, but the punishments kept coming.

A properly informed Board of Education would see right through these issues, but that would mean the Board would need to be properly informed.

The SMUHSD specifically identified the Burlingame Voice as a place where “unprotected speech” was carried out.

The Burlingame Voice is a place where the San Mateo Grand Jury collects evidence and information.

The Board is not a friend of the administration, they are the guardians of the public trust and taxpayers welfare.

“The wheels of justice turn slowly but grind exceedingly fine.”


Unprotected Speech. How Orwellian!

$1 Billion to be spent-KRN

We need strong Fiscal Leadership

According to one SMUHSD Board candidate’s video, the SMUHSD will spend over ($1,000,000,000) $1 billion in capital and operating expenses over the next four-year period.

$385,000,000 are current tax flows from Measure L.

The retirement of Trustee Marc Friedman will leave the Board without a Finance Wizard to keep the Administration in line and protect the public’s tax dollars.

The District needs strong financial oversight

Remember 2007…

In 2007, the fire was not put out until the SMUHSD was some $85 million in the hole… and then the economy collapsed.

“By ignoring the calls to act and allowing Superintendent Sam Johnson to stay in office, SMUHSD Board President Cohn-Lyle helped to facilitate the continuation of the school district's crippling financial disaster. It was subsequently revealed that under Johnson's leadership and the acquiescence of the board, that the original Measure D construction projects had run $73 million over budget and the district had taken out loans against future (and limited) revenues to cover the costs. Furthermore, after the passage of Measure M (in which the district suppressed the $73 million debt from the voters) Johnson attempted to award a $24 million construction management contract to the same individuals who went $73 million over budget on the first project.” -Burlingame Voice (2007)

The public posts in the BurlingameVoice regarding the SMUHSD fiscal debacle were daily reading of the SM Grand Jury. They picked up their investigation leads from the BV.

Unprotected Speech?

Public Oversight


I'm not sure if we will be having a Zoom debate for either the BSD or SMUSHD elections, but if we do I would love to hear the candidates' positions on AB331. Per today's WSJ:

Last year California’s Assembly passed its ethnic-studies bill known as AB 331 by a 63-8 vote. Then the state department of education put forward a model curriculum so extreme and ethnocentric that the state Senate’s Democratic supermajority balked. The curriculum said among other things that “within Ethnic Studies, scholars are often very critical of the system of capitalism as research has shown that Native people and people of color are disproportionately exploited within the system.”

The bill was put on ice, but protests and riots in recent months gave Sacramento’s mavens of racial division more leverage. The education department delivered a new draft model curriculum this month, and AB 331 has been revived. It passed a Senate committee Aug. 20 and is expected to go before the full body soon. If Gov. Gavin Newsom signs it, the legislation would require all school districts to offer a semester-long ethnic studies class starting in 2025.

The model curriculum now on the education department’s website says the course should “build new possibilities for post-imperial life that promotes collective narratives of transformative resistance.” Yes, this is a course for K-12 students. It suggests teachers provide “examples of systems of power, which can include economic systems like capitalism and social systems like patriarchy.” Students can then be taught “the four ‘I’s of oppression”—ideological, institutional, interpersonal and internalized.


It's so gratifying to know that California students are excelling in math and the sciences and reading above grade level. We know that we have time for ethics now that all of that is good.

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