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    LB Unified School District Cancels Nov. 19 Meeting One Day After Lakewood City Council OK's Televising LBUSD Bd. Meetings; LBUSD School Bd. Sec'y Says Supt.'s Office Asked Her To Postpone Nov. 19 Meeting to Nov. 26 Due to Expected Absence of Two Boardmembers...and Supt's Request Came Before Lakewood Acted

    (November 19, 2002) -- One day after Lakewood City Council voted unanimously to televise Long Beach Unified School Board meetings which LBUSD Board members have refused to televise themselves, LBUSD cancelled its School Board meeting of November 19 and rescheduled it to November 26, 2002.

    A change notice dated November 13, 2002 was issued on the letterhead of the LBUSD's Office of the Superintendent, stating that the "regular business meeting of the Board of Education scheduled for Tuesday, November 19, 2002 has been changed to Tuesday, November 26, 2002."

    Although the notice provides no explanation for the change, LBUSD's School Board secretary told today that Superintendent Chris Steinhauser asked her during a November 12 afternoon LBUSD workshop to postpone the November 19 Board meeting to November 26 due to the expected absence or unavailability of two Board members.

    This request came prior to the Lakewood City Council's voted action later that night to begin televising citizen-made video of LBUSD meetings as a pilot project. The subject matter had been publicly agendized for possible Lakewood Council action at least 72 hours earlier under the Brown Act.

    LBUSD's web site lists November 19 as a scheduled date for a School Board meeting and indicates "[e]xception/changes are sometimes made to avoid conflicts with holiday, winter and spring breaks, or other significant days."

    The LBUSD School Board Meeting change notice is dated November 13, the same day on which reported the Lakewood City Council's voted action, taken in response to a written request from LB and Lakewood residents frustrated with LBUSD's refusal to televise its meetings.

    "Because the [LB] school district continues to refuse to use its million-dollar video production capability for this purpose, a group of Lakewood-Long Beach residents...intend to provide "gavel-to-gavel" coverage of the meeting as a public service," wrote taxpayer Toby Hess. "We will not edit or editorialize on the proceedings. We do intend to provide a short, factual "Before the Board" commentary of the items that are discussed at the meeting so that viewers can understand the context of the agenda items."

    The Lakewood City Council's vote authorizes a pilot project to televise the citizen-made video on the City of Lakewood's cable channel.

    LB School Board member Suja Lowenthal has previously indicated she favors televising LB School Board meetings. L.A. School Board meetings are televised, as are LB's City Council meetings.

    Lakewood's pilot program will be viewable only by Lakewood residents. LB taxpayers and parents remain effectively blacked out...although LBUSD has its own cable TV channel (viewable in LB) on which it could televise its own meetings.

    In July, two LB School Board incumbents, Ed Eveland and Bobbie Smith, publicly rebuffed a request by LB taxpayer and veteran school activist Reyna Akers that the LB School Board televise its meetings.

    At that time, LB School Board member Eveland claimed televised meetings of the LB City Council and L.A. School board "become nothing but zoos, with people like you that get up and are constantly negative, never have anything to say." He said, "I watch the L.A. Unified School District meeting every week and I watch the Long Beach City Council meeting every week, and the reason I do is I get more damn entertainment out of those programs than any comedy that there is."

    Boardmember Smith said the Board had decided televising Board meetings "is too costly, and we could use those funds to improve student achievement."

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