The board voted to ban the use of racial slurs in schools last night. The decision sparked outrage among some parents and employees who say it goes too far, while others welcome the move as a step to make sure students feel safe.

Community Split Over Comments Made Last School Board Meeting •

Paloma Creek High School was named a Model Continuation High School by the Board of Education.

ATASCADERO — Following their 6 p.m. Closed Session, the Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD) had its regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, March 15 at 7 p.m.

Paloma Creek High School was named a Model High School for Continuation. Dr. Libby Madding, the school’s principal, delivered a presentation on all of the school’s accomplishments this year, which garnered the school a lot of praise.

“We are quite pleased; it is a beautiful representation of all of the kids, faculty, parents, and the whole school community.” There is much to be proud of here, and a great deal of effort goes into making that school so successful for the children we serve. “Congratulations, Dr. Madding,” Superintendent Tom Butler said. 

We’re going to get through this together, Atascadero


“This statement here, I believe encapsulates up, in a very basic sense, our belief philosophy at Paloma Creek,” Principal Dr. Madding said. That’s all there is to it; any kid can learn, but not on the same day or in the same manner. “Our instructors and kids understand that this is a basic principle of ours,” Madding remarked. 

Students at Paloma Creek thrived in their alternate learning environment, as Madding demonstrated. Even the first-ever Alternative Education Basketball Tournament was organized and conducted by the students. They also completed a garden shed, which they donated to Atascadero Middle School. Paloma Creek also won the award for the County-Wide International Walk to School Day, defeating Arroyo Grande High, the previous winner. Just a handful of the awards they’ve received this year. 

Paloma Creek and all Principal Madding is doing on campus were lauded by the whole Trustee Board.

Six members of the public participated in the Oral Communications from the Public session. Some board members complained about trustees Ray Buban and Terri Switzer’s statements at the March 1 Board meeting. Other community members expressed their support for the Board. 

“It was brought to my notice at the most recent Board meeting; President Terri Switzer and Mr. Buban both expressed their opinions.” The Holocaust was being compared to mask regulations and vaccination obligations in these statements. And to conflate African-American experience with slavery. John Skinner said, “That is entirely incorrect.”

Rebekah Koznek came out to defend the First Amendment and the Right to Free Speech. “Whether or not I agree with Mr. Buban and Mrs. Switzer, it’s irrelevant; it’s your decision and your right to free expression.”

April Tarantino served documents to the Trustee Board during Oral Communication from the Public.

“Tonight, I will serve each of you with a letter of intent to make a claim against your school insurance policy, which is held by a risk management business, in place of your individual liability bonds, which are required by State law for anybody elected or appointed to government or public office.” “In your insurance, each event is one claim submitted against your coverage,” Tarantino added. Each incidence has a deductible that you must pay before the insurance provider will cover the balance of the losses. That means if you don’t pay attention, you might lose your home, your vehicle, your job, your retirement, and so on. You are breaking many state, federal, and international laws, and based on this most recent instance in Illinois, you may face federal prison time for your acts if you do not stop. I don’t want any of this to happen to any of you; all I want to do is do what is best for my kid and all of you. So, March 15, 2022, you’ve been served.”

At this time, the specifics of the filing have not been made public.

Following public remark, the Board stood in unity with all of its Trustee members. 

“I believe the fact that members of our community are contacting us, sending letters, and going down to the platform to demand the removal, resignation, and retraction of their [Switzer and Buban’s] words is evidence enough that we’ve reached a dangerous place in society.” Our God-given prerogative as Trustees does not end when we go through the door; we do have personal views, and we will voice them,” stated trustee Mary Kay Mills. “We are all elected and voted on by the people of this town, and we’ve all been reelected many times, so I challenge any of you who still believe we’re doing a bad job to put your money where your mouth is and go on the ballot in November.” 

The minutes and consent agenda were unanimously approved.

Superintendent Butler presented revisions to the district’s AUSD Plan for the Opening of Schools in Response to COVID-19 and the Injury & Illness Prevention Program. Changes include mask-choice, exposure notifications instead of contact tracing, and no longer having to stay six feet apart. The documents are in constant flux, and changes might need to be made again in the future. The revisions were approved by the Board. 

The Audit Report Findings were given to the Board by Don Vert, Chairman of the Bond Oversight Committee. “Do read through the report; you should be quite proud of it,” Vert said.

Brant Lloyd, Director of Support Services, addressed the Board with two items. The first is a Deferred Maintenance Project at Creston Elementary, which requires the replacement of a huge HVAC unit in the Multi-Purpose Room. J.R. Barto’s proposal of $49,687 was recommended by Lloyd to be awarded the job. The motion was unanimously approved.

The Atascadero High School Building B Demolition/Quad/Fire Alarm Project was the second item on the agenda. This item is part of a three-phase project, although Fire Alarms were the topic of discussion. The school has been given $626,076 to replace all current fire alarms on campus. The motion was unanimously approved.

Jackie Martin, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, presented a Second Interim Budget Report for the fiscal year 21-22. It was unanimously approved.

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services E.J. Rossi gave a presentation on the A-G Completion Improvement Grant Plan, which was first presented to the Board on March 1. It was presented to the Board again for approval. The proposal received unanimous approval.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Atascadero Unified School District will be place on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, at 7 p.m.

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