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After-school group’s contract dispute with WCCUSD devolves into insults at board meeting

on September 12, 2022

Emotions boiled over at the West Contra Costa Unified School District board meeting Wednesday when administrators of the Bright Futures Growth and Development Center in Richmond asked why they no longer had a contract to provide after school and other services to students.

Bright Futures President Idrissa Lattier lobbed cutting accusations of selfishness and dishonesty at each of the board members, as she scolded them for their inaction on the contract, saying, “I don’t need to sell Bright Futures. … We shouldn’t have to fight for money. Twenty-six years — we shouldn’t have to tell you who we are and what we’re doing. You know what we do for these kids.”

Lattier, who is Black, singled out Superintendent Kenneth “Chris” Hurst before her microphone was cut off, calling him a racial slur and a “Black puppet.”

Later in the meeting, Hurst expressed outrage at her comments, saying, “I’m not going to tolerate it.”

Asked later about what she said, Lattier told Richmond Confidential, “It’s many years of frustration and knowing that the lies have continued. I don’t take back anything that I said. I meant every single word.”

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Pointing out that he was not condoning the personal attacks, board member Mister Phillips questioned Hurst at the meeting about why Bright Futures’ contract was not renewed.

“I do think that Bright Futures has a really good track record,” Phillips said. “This issue they brought up tonight is not new. It’s something that’s been going on for about a year. … I would like know, why don’t they have a contract?”

Citing a lack of communication by Bright Futures and its failure to follow the prescribed process for contract renewal, Hurst accused the organization of being “very unprofessional.”

“Why don’t they have a contract, because they didn’t set a meeting with me,” he said.

However, the superintendent left the door open for further cooperation, adding, “I will reach out to them and show them the process.” 

Bright Futures’ last contract with the school district expired in June 2021.

Several community members urged the board to keep working with Bright Futures, whose services include academic support and social opportunities for students. Executive Director Ivy Winston said 98% of the students served are African American. She said Bright Futures had been under contract with the school district since 2013, and administrators came to the meeting to find out why that contract was dropped.

Yolanda Williams, whose grandchild attends the center’s after school program, called Bright Futures essential, as it allows “families to work late hours [and] to have proper supervision for their children until they can pick them up.” 

Dylan Rotich, a program alum, called the center an “important pillar in our community,” adding that it is “much more than a service, it’s a family.”

Winston and Lattier later said that they had met with Hurst multiple times, including on Aug. 30, 2021, shortly after he became superintendent. Winston said the meeting was positive and that Hurst had said his team would reach out with next steps, but it never happened. She said Bright Futures submitted a proposal and was approved as a district vendor in July.

Getting approved as a vendor is a different process than getting a contract, said district spokesperson Ryan Phillips. “There is a strategic vetting process that Bright Futures has not participated in that is required before a contract with an outside vendor is approved.”

That option, he added, “is still available to the organization.”

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