EGUSD declines to take action against Trustee Singh-Allen; Hmong American Ad Hoc organizers plan protest march

In response to demands that the Elk Grove Unified School District take actions against Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen for alleged racist co...

In response to demands that the Elk Grove Unified School District take actions against Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen for alleged racist comments, the district has said they have no jurisdiction to take any steps.

The response came from the school district in response to an August 17 letter from attorney and Elk Grove City Council candidate Ali Moua who sought, among other things, a formal apology and an independent investigation of Singh-Allen, who is challenging Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly in this year's election. Moua, who is challenging incumbent Darren Suen for the District 1 Elk Grove City Council seat, and others in the Hmong community sought the remedies after Singh-Allen made comments in social media and published reports that they allege are offensive and racist toward their culture and ethnicity.

Moua asserted in his letter to EGUSD Superintendent Christopher Hoffman that Singh-Allen's comments violated the district's Human Dignity Policy. Additionally, Moua said Singh-Allen's comments on the Hmong patriarchal system put the district's Hmong students in danger.

The District's response did not come from Hoffman, rather it came from a district legal compliance specialist, Kanitra Lopez. In the five-page letter dated August 28 (see lever below), Lopez used four pages of the correspondence to copy the district's Human Dignity Policy.

In a four-paragraph summation following the citation of the Human Dignity Policy, Lopez said the school district does not have jurisdiction over Singh-Allen's actions outside of her Trustee responsibilities. Lopez asserted Singh-Allen's comments were made independent of her Trustee role and not subject to district review.

Furthermore, Lopez said since Singh-Allen's actions were in conjunction with an election for political office, according to state law, the district cannot involve itself. Lopez cited California Government Code 8314 and Education Code 7054.

Moua did not respond to email requests seeking comment on the district's response. In his August 17 letter, Moua said other remedies would be sought if the district did not respond, but it is not known if further action will be taken following the district's statement.

Organizers of the September 2 protest at the school district's administrative offices, which drew over 200 people, expressed disappointment in the handling of the request.

The organizers of that protest, the Hmong American Ad Hoc committee, issued a statement that in part that the district's "continuous refusal to address this matter at the district level is detrimental to the safety and well-being of the students of EGUSD. The district's denial in reprimanding or disciplining Trustee Singh-Allen for her actions sets an example for others that, 'I can be racist and irresponsible so as long as I do it on my own time,' and this is something we will not and cannot accept."

Below is the Ad Hoc's complete statement:

It is unfortunate that the district continues to deny and refuse to take part in addressing Trustee Singh-Allen's racist attacks on the Hmong Community. A person's action is a reflection of their employer whether it be before, during, or after work time. The continuous refusal to address this matter at district level is detrimental to the safety and well-being of the students of EGUSD. The district's denial in reprimanding or disciplining Trustee Singh-Allen for her actions sets an example for others that, "I can be racist and irresponsible so as long as I do it on my own time," and this is something we will not and cannot accept. EGUSD has a duty to care for the safety and well-being of its students, meaning they must show due diligence in following up to ensure that the student's best interests are still being met. EGUSD's refusal to acknowledge the damage Trustee Singh-Allen has made to the community sets precedence that protecting Trustee Singh-Allen is EGUSD's priority over the safety of our students. This is not a political stunt and we will refuse to acknowledge it as such. We will not stop until our concerns have been addressed. We welcome the community to join us in our March for Justice on Wednesday, Sept 16 at 8 am. 'SILENCE IS VIOLENCE.' ~ Hmong American Ad Hoc

As a follow-up to their recent rally, the Hmong American Ad Hoc group has organized another event on Wednesday, September 16. The 8 a.m. is being called "March For Justice" (see below) will start at the administrative offices of the Cosumnes C on Elk Grove Boulevard to the school district office on Elk Grove-Florin Road, a route of approximately one-half mile.
Singh-Allen said the decision by the school district was validation. Below is her entire statement.

“It is reassuring that the EGUSD lawyer has concluded that I have not been in violation of any ethical code and that I have not in any way violated the oath I took to represent and advocate for the more than 60,000 students the district represents. I have a long history of standing up against bullying and against discrimination of any kind. I do continue to feel a great deal of sorrow and empathy towards the Hmong community. Not only for anything I may have said, as I mentioned back in my July 9th post on Facebook, (see below) and that but of context were hurtful, but also for the pain they are suffering because they continue to be misled by people in their own community like Steve Ly and Ali Moua. Mr. Moua knew the day of the protest the response of the School District. He had the letter the district had shared with him, yet he chose not share the fact, the EGUSD letter said that this was a political issue. Meaning there was political motivation behind his original letter.”“Mr. Moua is not alone in the effort to mislead his community. It has been made clear now by a court accepted translation that Mr. Ly says one thing to the community at large and his colleagues in the council and another when he speaks to Hmong media. In English, he says he believes the women’s stories of harassment. In Hmong, he dismisses them as just political attacks. Which one is it Mr. Ly?”

Letter from EGUSD to Attorney Moua

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Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

Perhaps an election attorney or someone with more familiarity with the law can clarify the differing opinions between the City of Elk Grove and the Elk Grove Unified School District and their respective action and inactions addressing allegations against a council member and trustee. These comments are based on the school district’s reference to Code 8314.

The Elk Grove City Council took actions against Mr. Ly for something he did outside of his official role as mayor, while the school district said it didn’t have jurisdiction over such activities. Who is correct – the human resources person from the school district, or did the Elk Grove’s city attorney, Mr. Jonathan Hobbs, willingly omitt this code from his analysis?

It seems as though both decisions were politically motivated. All four members of the City Council have consistently opposed Mr. Ly, so did this influence Mr. Hobb’s legal advice? From Mr. Hobbs's perspective, it's better to have four happy bosses than one.

As for Ms. Singh-Allen, it seems to the only member of the school board to express concerns with the allegations was Mr. Carmine Forcina, a political ally of Mayor Ly. Did Ms. Singh-Allen’s alliances on the school board color Dr. Hoffman’s directions on this matter?

In both cases, even though they claim to make apolitical decisions, staff members who report a majority of the board or council members know who pays their salaries.

Unknown said...

Captain Willard, in response to your invitation, a primer on the law.

In the case of Mr. Ly, the City Council referred official conduct to the County Grand Jury. The allegations against Mr. Ly are that he engaged in a pattern of conduct to prevent and punish private citizens exercising constitutional and statutory rights to free speech and public engagement. If Mr. Ly is found to have organized the callers that used the statutory free speech privilege of the July council meeting to defame Ms. Vwj, if has in fact orchestrated efforts to silence people who speak out publicly, then he has committed significant violence of the First Amendment.

Contrast with Ms. Singh-Allen. There are no allegations that Ms. SIngh-Allen attempted to punish or dissuade citizens from exercising their constitutional and statutory rights. Instead, the allegation is that in denouncing Mr. Ly publicly Ms. SIngh-Allen said things that offended a segment of the Hmong community. That is the exercise of free speech, not a secret or private effort to punish free speech.

What is troubling in all of this has been the distortion so readily allowed on these pages. As the Sacramento Bee noted, Ms. Singh-Allen's initial comments were not racist or anti-Hmong and her her follow-up clarification addressed that. The Bee has not covered Mr. Moua's poltical stunt because they recognize it for what it is-a political stunt bordering (and probably crossing the line) on an ethical practice since as an attorney he threatened legal action as an effort to compel a government organization to force a citizen to engage in private speech (forcing Ms. SIngh-Allen to issue some sort of apology is obviously out of bounds.) I know that many in the local bar found Mr. Moua's letter troubling and inappropriate, not because of the political elements of it, but because of the unethical threats and the odd insistence at placing his letterhead on every page to display his legal credentials.

Ms. SIngh-Allen amplified comments raised by Hmong women, including a Hmong professor at Sacramento State, in the Sacramento Bee's coverage of the the allegations against Mr. Ly. She clarified her remarks when concerns were expressed. That the issue continues to be pressed months later, with no new incidents or statements, with the same recycled hyperbole, suggests that this is a political ploy.

I am disappointed that these pages continue to cover this ploy with so much energy and ignore the only new development. When Mr. Ly was given a hearing to determine if he would be censured, he told the council he believed that the women complaining against him were telling the truth. He said he was sorry for their pain and insisted that his followers stop their attacks. Yet days later, under the cover of Hmong language TV interviews, he called the women liars, said the allegations were false and political, and called upon his supporters not to believe any of it. Setting aside all of the other controversy, its seems Mr. Ly should face censure for making false statements during the disciplinary hearing it granted him. In any event, Mr. Ly was caught lying to his council colleagues, which is hardly and effective strategy for building bridges with your colleagues.

Or better yet, Mr. Moua and team Ly could stop the political stunts and the city focus issues like the environmental impact of the biohazard wet lab/hospital that proposes to rewrite the city flood prevention plan. The Grand Jury may speak, but most likely after the election. Enough with the stunts, let's have a campaign and let the voters rule this city.

Josie said...

In politics there really is such a thing as too much information. I keep going back to that old adage, 'keep it simple, stupid', still being very good advice.

Eye on Elk Grove said...

To true Josie. It is obvious that the “Unknown” post came from the legal department at EGUSD. This is simply long-winded legal mumbo jumbo mired in BS rhetoric.

Who are these taxpayer funded attorneys kidding? Those of who have been around since incorporation learned well from former City Attorney Tony Manzanetti and City Manager John Danielson.

When the majority of the Elk Grove City Council wants something done, Manzanetti would find a legal argument. When they didn’t, Manzanetti would find a legal hoop hole. See Pat Hume and Steve Ly Sacramento Grand Jury recommended complaints.

Current Elk Grove City Attorney Jon Hobbs should be given credit in that he can count to four!

Same is now true with EGUSD. The Capt. correct. . . who signs their paycheck? Three votes to keep your lucrative salary and benefits, three votes to oust. See former City Attorney Susan Burns Cochran and former City Manager Laura Gill.

Oh the games people play now. . . .!

Unknown said...

The funny thing, is EGUSD has no legal department. All legal work is outsourced to attorneys who specialize in a particular area of practice. Different lawyers are used based upon their expertise. Those lawyers are typically working for many school districts and their credibility is the key to obtaining work. Nobody writes a false legal opinion for a couple hundred dollars in fees when it would risk 100x that.

All that said, the poster Unknown (and your current author) is not employed by EGUSD or the school district. So you want a shorter answer: You can always refer someone to the Grand Jury. They'll investigate if it involves a violation of the law or constitution and official acts. The city is not subject to the education code, but the school district is. The education code has prohibitions that apply to what a school district can do. Sanctioning non-official acts because you don't like what the individual said is prohibited. Now, why hasn't Mr. Moua filed a Grand Jury complaint? I suspect its because he does not want a rejection letter to derail his stunt (note that the city complaint has not been rejected so we can presume that the Grand Jury has accepted it).

I am delighted to be your obedient servant-

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