A racial bullying incident at Santa Monica High School in May became a major regional news story last week.

The racially-tinged event was finally reported to the Santa Monica Police Department, which has opened an investigation. And, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was brought in to determine if the district broke any laws by its handling of the event.

Concerned parents and community members have expressed themselves loud and strong.

Public commentary including postings on www.smdp.com and other websites have called the episode “a disgrace” and sharply criticized the school district for the way they handled it as well as for not reporting it to law enforcement, as required.

Outrage about the incident itself and how its handing by the usual school cheerleaders has been, at best, subdued although Debbie Mulvaney, Samohi PTSA president, voiced her concern about the lack of communication at Thursday night’s school board meeting.

How about our Board of Education? As usual, they’re now trying to figure out how to shut the barn door after the cows have bolted. That’s after expressing their disappointment and disgust during a packed board session.

Moving quickly into damage control mode, incensed board members apologized for the incident and directed staff to look into curriculum about diversity, tolerance and sensitivity training, review policies on student behavior and provide support for those “hurt” by the event. The board also promised to reinstate the Intercultural District Advisory Committee.

The Board of Education also discussed a recommendation by its chair, Jose Escarce, to commission an independent review by a third party not connected to the police department, the school district or any member of the administration to get to the bottom of the many versions of the events that allegedly took place on May 4. He told the Daily Press (“Police investigate racial incident at Samohi,” June 28, page 1), “We need to sort out what happened and why it happened to try to prevent it in the future.”

Sounds as if the board doesn’t trust the SMPD or the L.A. County Sheriff to do a thorough, unbiased and accurate investigation. So, they may spend scarce school funds on an independent “entity” for their own review?

While the board mulls squandering precious resources on another redundant and costly report, they’re also considering floating another “emergency” parcel tax ballot measure. What chutzpah!

Done deal done

Speaking of disappointments, the City Council voted Tuesday night to let Saint John’s Health Center off the hook for building a much needed, 450-car, on-site parking garage. As everyone had been saying for weeks, “It’s a done deal.” Now, Saint John’s can continue to spread its parking and traffic misery all over the Mid-City neighborhood — with impunity.

For the record, the vote was 5-0 with Pam O’Connor, Terry O’Day, Gleam Davis, Bob Holbrook and Richard Bloom voting for the amendment to the hospital’s development agreement. “No” votes (if any) would have most likely come from Kevin McKeown and Bobby Shriver, who were absent.

I’m not going to rant and rehash about how this vote went down along the side of council people who’ve pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from developers, their attorneys and other real estate interests.

I’m just hoping that voters who are most impacted by the council’s decision remember it come election day in 2012. So, I’ll save my “sold out the residents, again” tirade for then.

That of course includes our mayor, Richard Bloom, whose campaign for a state Assembly seat has been lagging because all the key endorsements have gone to his strongest opponent so far, and that is Torie Osborn. It would appear Bloom needs all the developer money he can get if he expects to buy enough ads to move ahead of front-runner Osborn.

Put your parade face on

If you’re sitting at home with your slippered feet up on a chair, reading this newspaper, sipping coffee and scarfing down waffles and scrambled eggs — shame on you. Why aren’t you down on Main Street waving flags, showing your patriotism and watching (or participating in) this year’s Independence Day parade?

Sponsored by the Ocean Park Association neighborhood group, the all-community parade will start promptly at 9:30 a.m. on July 4 in front of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and amble its way down Main Street to the Venice border.

The grand marshals of this year’s parade themed “Fourth of July at the Beach” will be the Santa Monica Lifeguards led by Capt. Angus Alexander, a 41-year veteran of the service. Bands and musical entertainment will be featured. I hope the musicians know that 1965 Fontella Bass classic “Rescue Me.”

Marchers, old cars and floats from private enterprises, neighborhood organizations, nonprofits, police and fire departments and other civic and governmental organizations will take part. I’ll be on the Santa Monica Police Volunteers float.

Round up the family, come on down (if it’s not already too late) and party hearty.

Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com

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