School trustees canned plans for a midday emergency meeting to discuss the wildfires sweeping San Diego County, to the chagrin of trustee Katherine Nakamura, who criticized Superintendent Carl Cohn’s decision to keep most San Diego schools open Monday.

Nakamura told television news crews she disagreed with the decision, and pushed for an emergency meeting of the school board. Trustees Mitz Lee and Luis Acle joined her at the district office, and school staff began preparing the auditorium for a public meeting. Just after noon, however, Acle, the board’s president, informed that the meeting would not take place.

“The official view of this district is the superintendent’s,” he said. “… It is inappropriate to try to upstage a meeting (the superintendent’s press conference) that is much better orchestrated.”

Acle added that legally, a special meeting must be proposed by two board members, and must be publicized to media one hour before occurring. With the end of the school day rapidly approaching, Acle said holding a meeting in an hour, at 1 p.m. at the time, would not be effective.

Nakamura’s concerns were echoed by teachers, principals and parents, many of whom picked up their children early from school Monday. Even in areas not directly affected by the fire, parents raised concerns about air quality and about school staffing. Teachers’ union president Camille Zombro said a number of San Diego teachers who live in North or East County were absent Monday, due to evacuation orders.


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