During its closed session on Sept. 14, the Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education opted to hire independent counsel to investigate allegations that Vice President Tristen Walker-Shuman is not a resident in the district she represents.
Several board members addressed the allegations, which were detailed in an anonymous complaint sent to several government agencies and news publications, at the end of the regular meeting.
President Rachelle Marcus concluded the regular meeting by reading aloud an “inappropriate and abusive” e-mail that she said she received from Walker-Shuman on Sept. 9.
“I quote, ‘You are wrong about me, about my residency, and when it is proven publicly, the only thing your presidency will be remembered for is your jealous, petty attacks on me,’” Marcus said. “She went on, ‘You are an embarrassment. Miss Rachelle, your need for attention and adulation has led you to make serious, flawed decisions. Again, all of the City Council members see this as a pathetic attempt to assassinate my character, and you are now tied to this.’”
The board president defended her service to the district and said Walker-Shuman’s comments were “misplaced and counterfeit to what her true intentions are.”
Minutes prior, Walker-Shuman said the complaint is a political stunt “perpetrated by social terrorists designed to harass me by weaponizing my personal life.”
“This effort will fail, as have all the other malicious efforts by the same crowd,” she added. “This is a legal matter of my residency, one that can simply be resolved so that it can cease to be a distraction any longer. In fact, as I had previously expressed support for, the board has directed an inquiry to be undertaken to resolve this allegation. I am a resident of Beverly Hills, as I have been for nearly my entire life to date.”
Board member Noah Margo voiced his support for Walker-Shuman and called for his colleagues to remain focused on district matters as the investigation begins.
“There have been plenty of times in the past that colleagues of mine have fallen under fire,” he said. “This is a brutal job, and only the five of us up here can really empathize with what we actually go through. We can call for an investigation to satisfy my colleague’s residency question, but … I hope we can get a quick clarification and put this issue behind us. You have served this district and this community honorably and tirelessly. Thank you for your service. Thank you for sacrificing your time for our students, staff and parents. We, as a board, are always most successful when we should put the focus on education. I hope we can get back to that sooner than later.”
Board member Mary Wells said the complaint is “not a sideshow,” and that it speaks to the board’s role in keeping the “best interests of our constituents in mind at all times.”
“I take the complaint seriously, and I strongly believe, and I hope, that working with independent counsel, who have expertise with this specific matter and who has proven to have the highest professional ethics and integrity, will bring resolution to these issues and restore confidence to everyone that our board members are legitimately serving as their trusted officials who can address our community’s challenges,” she added. “In the meantime, I would ask everyone to refrain from making this personal and to focus on what is truly at issue, which are the issues raised by the facts presented in the claim.”
On Sept. 15, a spokesman with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said its Public Integrity Division had concluded its review of the complaint and that “no further action will be taken.”
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