YUCCA MESA — Morongo Unified School District trustees approved raises and heard from a parent about the pitfalls of combination classes Tuesday.

The mother of two children at Palm Vista Elementary School, Brianna Sullivan, spoke out about combo classes.

“I have a kindergartner and a second-grader at Palm Vista,” she said. “I love both my kids’ teachers. I think they’re doing the absolute best that they can, but teachers have enough to deal with, with large class sizes and behavioral problems.”

Sullivan said her daughter, a second-grader in a combo class with third-graders, often has to work independently and can’t ask for help from her teacher because the teacher is working with the students in the other grade level.

Although she is in second grade, her daughter is on a third-grade schedule. She eats lunch and is released on a third-grade schedule, meaning that she doesn’t get to eat with other second-graders other than the five in her class.

“It’s easy to look past problems when you haven’t witnessed them first-hand,” Sullivan said.

Since the item was not on the agenda, the board was not able to respond to Sullivan, but they said they would look into it in the future.

The board later updated contracts for Superintendent Tom Baumgarten and three assistant superintendents — Amy Woods, who leads instructional services, Michael Ghelber, who leads human resources, and Sharon Flores, who leads business services.

The trustees gave them each a 3 percent raise pursuant to the rate of inflation.

Board member Karalee Hargrove abstained from voting on all of the assistant superintendents’ raises and when voting on Baumgarten’s raise, she voted “no.”

The meeting closed with a vote on a resolution stating that the board supports the governance team and all the employees in the Morongo Unified School District.

Hargrove again cast the lone “no” vote.

Hargrove said that, while she absolutely supports the staff, she voted “no” on the resolution because she believed it was written in direct response to recent comments she’s made in school board meetings.

She also said the resolution was brought up in closed session in violation of the state’s open-meetings regulations, called the Brown Act.

“I’ll be looking into a full-on investigation on why it was brought up in closed session when it wasn’t on the agenda,” she said.

The other board members disagreed with Hargrove’s interpretation of the resolution and voted to pass it 4-1.

The next MUSD board of education meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at Joshua Tree Elementary School.

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