Setting the record straight

Dear Editor, I was informed today that Dr. Edward Trimis is being banned from attending any school events at Verdugo Hills High School. I sent the following letter to the Superintendent (Michelle.King@LAUSD.net) of the LAUSD on April 27:

Dear Ms. King,

My name is Brandon J. Hanes. I have two daughters enrolled at Verdugo Hills High School (VHHS). They are both seniors and have attended Verdugo since their freshmen year. My daughter, Taylor Hanes is the deputy colonel for the JROTC and also serves as an alternate student board member for the LAUSD. My daughter, Tessa is involved with many of the arts programs at Verdugo.

For the past four years, we have enjoyed getting to know Dr. Edward Trimis as he was the principal at Verdugo when they enrolled and he has been integral to their positive experiences in academics, the arts and student leadership. We were very saddened and somewhat enraged when Dr. Trimis was removed from his position at Verdugo. He had become like family to us, and the thought that we would be missing him and everything he did for Verdugo so close to the end of senior year was nearly unbearable.

Considering this close relationship with Dr. Trimis, our family of course has extended invitations to him to attend the school events that my daughters are part of and have always enjoyed his presence. For example, Tessa has the stage production and spring musical of “Hairspray” this Saturday. Dr. Trimis has attended all her performances in the past. Taylor has the awards banquet/ceremony for the JROTC coming up on May 3. Dr. Timis has always attended these ceremonies and had kind words to say to my daughter. Tessa has spring concert coming up. Trimis has always been there to encourage, support and praise her and the entire team. Senior awards and graduation is coming up. The thought of Dr. Trimis not being there is extremely unfortunate and quite frankly a travesty.

Dr. Trimis’ indefatigable efforts to attend all Verdugo Hills events and to document them on social media to share with the entire student body has been a mainstay in developing school spirit, pride and success. We are all missing him and his uniquely remarkable dedication to students and the school. Make no mistake, my girls are not the only ones feeling this devastating loss. Hundreds of students and parents are beside themselves with grief and angst.

The reason I am addressing these issues with you today is that upon the extension of invitation to Dr. Trimis for these events, I have been informed that the “local superintendent” has blocked Dr. Trimis from attending any events at VHHS.

I will not inquire or pry into the reasons the local superintendent has taken this stance, but I can tell you from a legal standpoint that it is certainly challengeable and a violation of Dr. Trimis’ basic human rights as a citizen of the U.S.

Constitutional provisions provide protection to teachers and school staff at public schools that are generally not available to teachers at private schools. Since public schools are state entities, constitutional restrictions on state action limit some actions that public schools may take with respect to teachers or other employees. One of those rights, that is constitutional in nature, is the freedom of expression and association provided by the First Amendment.

If Dr. Trimis were a family member and I invited him to my daughter’s school events, what authority does the LAUSD have to prevent him from attending the events?

I implore you to think heavily on these issues which not only violate Dr. Trimis’ rights, but violate the rights of my and other families who are a part of VHHS. Any barring of Dr. Trimis from freely associating with us at school events should be rescinded immediately or LAUSD could face a barrage of litigation within the next 10 days.

I hope you will consider this plea and set right this errant course the “local superintendent” and the LAUSD find themselves on.

Sincerely,

Brandon J. Hanes

P.S. My letter to the LAUSD apparently worked. Byron Maltez (local super) emailed me this morning and said Dr. Trimis will be allowed to attend school events.

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