Oct 22 2022

Opinion: Records Request by School Board Candidate Justified by Test Scores and Rankings

Here’s my perspective on School Board Candidate Shirley Hooi’s Public Records request:

The school district is planning and in the process of making many changes to the curriculum and educational materials as part of anti-racist, anti-white privilege, and pro equity directives from their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Director and Director of Curriculum and Instruction.  Obviously, Shirley Hooi, or any candidate for school board, might find it useful to obtain educational materials from the school district.  Her request was a legitimate request made only a few days after announcing her candidacy.  The school district anticipates dozens of California Public Records Act (CPRA) requests throughout the year and allocates the appropriate resources to fulfill them in a timely manner.

In this digital era, where entire Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) textbooks are online, it’s reasonable to expect that the requested educational materials existed in digital format and thus would be producible via email.  Or that at least one physical copy of such materials is maintained in the district office.  So, it’s not obvious that the CPRA request was inordinately burdensome.   When Shirley became aware that her request was burdensome, she did reduce the scope of her request to just the most recent year.

There are excellent reasons why reasonable people are concerned about the quality of education at Piedmont schools. The California test scores, the state and national rankings, declines in enrollment, reports from various parent clubs, and the contents of Piedmont’s School Board meetings all indicate that Piedmont’s schools need to refocus their efforts on academics.    From my personal conversations with each of the school board candidates (over thirty minutes each), and from their presentations in various public forums, they all aim to have PUSD refocus efforts and return to the high-quality education previously produced.  The key difference among them is that Shirley Hooi believes the curriculum is delving into too many social areas that are traditionally the domain of parents.

Dai Meagher
Piedmont resident and PHS graduate

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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