Rich resigns from Menlo school board after 15 years

Laura Linkletter Rich, a member of the Menlo Park City School District board since 1998, is resigning her post, citing "increasing family demands out of town" that make it difficult for her to carry out her duties. Her term was to expire later this year.

The board will decide at its Jan. 14 meeting whether to call a special election to fill the post for the remainder of the term or to appoint someone instead.

Although the Jan. 14 meeting will be her last official one, "I have committed to smoothing the transition until a new board member takes office," Ms. Rich said in an announcement issued by the school district this morning (Jan. 6).

Although her children had already left the district's schools, which serve students from kindergarten through eighth grade, Ms. Rich ran for re-election in 2010 to see to the end campus reconstruction projects, she said at the time. The last of those projects, the transformation of the Hillview Middle School campus, was completed in September 2012.

Now, she said in the announcement, "the district has beautiful new facilities; is financially healthy; and has a leadership team of exceptional strength and dedication."


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Posted by It's a Fix
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 6, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Perfect timing for the board to appoint one of the usual suspects from the Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation who will then become a sure bet to keep the position permanently when the term is up for reelection. It's so much less messy to keep the process controlled and under wraps than for it actually to be an openly democratic and representative body of oversight and governance. Oh, well. At least we can always depend on the school board to remain a body of compliant insiders who know how to raise money.and not make waves.

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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 6, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.


Thank you for your long-term commitment to the education of our children and your endless efforts to make MPCSD a better place.

Funny, I didn't see "It's a Fix" on the last Election Ballot for School Board? Are you going to put your name up for nomination for the appointed role?

These elections have very few candidates, so they aren't FIXED. They are just very THANKLESS, UNPOPULAR jobs that busy citizens of our community do without much gratitude (as exemplified by your comment) and little or no compensation. Truly a thankless job due to snide remarks like yours (which of course are made anonymously, the true mark of a cowardice)

Thanks again Laura and thanks to all the other Board Members for your efforts.

Roy Thiele-Sardiña

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Posted by MPCSD insider
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 6, 2014 at 7:27 pm

I commend Laura Rich for the countless contributions and innumerable volunteer hours she has contributed to the school district. She has done much to make MPCSD the amazing place that it is. The only black mark on her incredible and lengthy career is her contribution to hiring the current superintendent (and recently extending his contract). It's long beyond time to survey the staff and administration about the true leadership abilities of Maurice Ghysels. Though many people have left or been forced out, there is still a major morale and trust problem that seriously impacts the work environment.

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Posted by "I'm in with the In Crowd..."
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 6, 2014 at 8:09 pm

The MPCSD Board uses succession planning to ensure that new Board members meet their criteria. It is unlikely that Ms. Rich would announce her resignation without ensuring that an “appropriate” candidate was willing to fill her seat.

Over the past few years, a variety of parents have demonstrated interest in being on the MPCSD Board. Most recently, in November 2010, Ana Uribe Ruiz ran for the Board. Ms. Uribe Ruiz then applied for the open seat when Mark Box resigned from the Board in June 2011.

Pam Larkin also applied for the seat. She was a 9-year member of the district's Strategic Planning Committee who chaired and co-chaired the Encinal Site Council for 2 years.

Ivan Montoya was a third candidate for the seat. He served on the Oak Knoll Site Council from 2003 to 2009 and served as the chairperson for 2 years.

When Mark Box indicated that he would be resigning from the Board, Jeff Child was encouraged to apply for the seat. Mr. Child, a previous Board member who chose to not run for re-election in November 2010, applied for the seat, and it was not a surprise that he was selected by the Board.

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Posted by the clique
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 6, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Laura has been an exemplary member of the community and I appreciate her service.

As something of an insider (MPAEF board alum, and friendly with past and current board members) it's no secret that the board is handpicked. There are rarely elections because openings are not publicized so few people are even aware of the opportunity. The last time someone dared to defy the status quo and run, she was slammed by the power elite. The complaints began with "she's already costing us $mega because we wouldn't have the expense of an election if she weren't running." The poor woman was thoroughly trashed at every opportunity. It should be possible to run for MPCSD school board without fear of public humiliation and excoriation, but that is not the case.

For the most part, the board is effective and efficient. But it is an insular group, and that's how they like it.

P.S. to Roy T-S and anyone with similar sentiments: I know people who expressed interest in joining the board and were told they were not a fit.It's very hard for an individual to buck the system -- especially with the knowledge that s/he is sure to lose the election!

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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 7, 2014 at 6:29 am

SteveC is a registered user.

It is always easier to complain than to run for the school board. If you want change, run for the school board a get elected!

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Posted by Elated!
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 7, 2014 at 9:21 am

Too little too late! Damage has been done upon Ken's retirement. Just ask the staff you guys.

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Posted by Unwritten Rules
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 7, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Roy, give me a break. How do you know "It's a Fix" didn't try to run? There were a dozen people -- very smart, involved parents who represented a diverse cross-section of our community -- who showed up at the first meeting to replace Mark Box. Most of them ran screaming from the room when they got the typical dismissive smile at their audacity to even show up. I was there that night and I heard the not-so-hidden message that it would be a waste of anyone's time to apply for the seat if he or she hadn't already held a high-level position. Not enough to volunteer in your kid's classroom -- you have to be in the inner sanctum. So if that's the case, why isn't written somewhere in the By-laws? Illegal, maybe?

Even if someone had plenty of experience, such as Pam Larken, she would never be tolerated because she speaks her own mind. They consider Joan Lambert -- a wealthy white attorney -- a wild card, for heaven's sake!!! They close ranks around any other contenders so those poor folks get publicly crucified.

I agree that it is a big time commitment and a lot of work to be on the Board, but that's no excuse for making it a closed club. There is NO diversity -- 20% of our district is Hispanic and there is not ONE PERSON of color on the Board. When the Superintendent search took place one of the big "plusses" they used to recruit was that whoever was hired would get to work with a Board that was in lock-step and wouldn't make waves. In Menlo Park, compliance is what counts.

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Posted by the clique
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Unwritten Rules has it nailed. At one point I was good friends with a board member and expressed my interest in serving on the board. My friend let me know that I would not be considered a viable candidate. I am considerably more outspoken than Pam Larkin!

I have a friend who ran for school board in southern California and in her town the board is owned by the teachers' union. So I know it could be much worse! Our board members have good intentions and work hard. I just wish they could have some faith in the system and open the board to anyone who wants to run. Not only has the club mentality caused much unhappiness among many district parents, a little diversity and fresh air might do us all some good.

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Posted by Elated!
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 7, 2014 at 5:24 pm

You guys have no idea what the problem is!

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Posted by inside the bubble
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 7, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Menlo Park overall is a bit of an isolated and upscale bubble and our community 'leaders' are the epitome of this. I do NOT think it is usually an overtly restrictive situation, but there is definitely a club-ish environment that is negative - especially with the school board. It would be good to get more diversity of thought and action.

By the way, I would be shocked if our kids did not also act out these behaviors on the school grounds such as imposing cliques on each other for arbitrary reasons. Woe to the girl that does not have the right clothes or the boy that is brown or the children that need to take the bus to East Palo Alto etc...

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Posted by MPCSD Employee
a resident of another community
on Jan 7, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Elated! - Enlighten us.

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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 7, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

Unwritten Rules,

I too was at the meeting where they interviewed the candidates for Board Member Box's opening. I thought they chose the best qualified and most experienced candidate for the position.

Apparently we disagree. Which is EXACTLY what elections are for, that the people who get elected have the most name recognition is because they probably volunteered at the School or District level and are recognized by the parents of the students they served.

Again, running for an office (Board Member, Council Member, Board Director, Supervisor) requires you to either be recognized by the constituents for your past accomplishments or to spend money getting your name in front of them by some other means. Messrs. Box & Child (and all the current board members) have name recognition because they were involved in our School Community before they were elected.

Again, not sure why you are complaining. It's really rather a simple ballot box matter.

Roy Thiele-Sardiña

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Posted by Menlo Park parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 8, 2014 at 5:00 pm

While I do not think the situation is extremely negative in Menlo Park, I do think that most people that are exposed to the school board feel the clique-ish nature of it. I attended a few meetings and it definitely felt that way to me. However, my experience with the schools (as a parent) has been very positive. My main exposure is limited to Oak Knoll and Hillview - I have interacted with both Principals and they seemed open, accessible, and responsive etc... It does seem as if there are cliques on campus (more so at the middle school than the elementary schools) and I do think this can create a negative environment for some children. I am not sure if my own child is on the 'good' or 'bad' side of that equation, but I do try to monitor this through him and coach him about it.

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