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$335,000 to cover security for Inglewood Unified's trustee raises questions

Don Brann is the state-appointed trustee running the Inglewood Unified School District.
Don Brann is the state-appointed trustee running the Inglewood Unified School District.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

The state-appointed trustee running the Inglewood Unified School District approved $135,000 in additional school district funds Tuesday to pay an armed California Highway Patrol officer who works as his driver and security guard.

“I don’t want to get hurt here,” said State Trustee Don Brann, who lives in nearby El Segundo. “I don’t know enough about present day Inglewood to know how good the chances are for that. So I’m just erring on the side of safety.”

The amount budgeted for his protection now grows to $335,000 for reimbursements between April 2013 and April 2015.

As trustee, Brann acts as Inglewood Unified's school board and superintendent, approving funds as he sees fit, with periodic oversight by the state superintendent of public instruction and the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

He said the protection service began after the previous state trustee received threats, but Brann has not received any in the 15 months he's been on the job. 

Brann was appointed last year to oversee Inglewood Unified after its school board and superintendent requested a bailout loan from the state two years ago.

The school district continues to bleed red ink. Brann projects a $4.5 million deficit this coming school year. About five months ago, Brann sent more than 100 layoff notices to employees to help close the budget deficit.

Some employees questioned Brann's use of district funds for an unmarked patrol car and protection by a CHP officer.

“We think it’s totally a waste of taxpayers’ money,” said Chris Graeber, field representative for the California Professional Employees, the union that represents Inglewood Unified’s non-teaching employees.

Many of those laid off were security personnel represented by Graeber’s union. Brann is cleaning up the school district’s fiscal problems, Graeber said, but he is reducing funding for one of district parents' biggest concerns, security on campus.

“He wants his security, but he doesn’t have security for the students for the first two weeks of school,” Graeber said. He added that Brann has brought back about eight security personnel previously laid off.

The California Highway Patrol provides security through its Dignitary Protection Section to state officials, including the governor and state treasurer. Brann said he obtained the services through his appointment by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. The CHP said superintendents of public schools, such as Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy, do not qualify for this service.

Brann, a long-time administrator at several small school districts, said the security service makes up for some of what he's giving up.

"My family is sacrificing for me to come here on an encore career. I came here to help the people here, and I am."

KPCC's Karen Foshay contributed to this report.