WESTMINSTER—The city’s school board tonight will discuss whether its president should apologize for calling a state education official and his staff Communists.

Board member Nancy L. Blumenthal has said board President Michael J. Verrengia made inappropriate comments about Norman Gold, manager of bilingual
education compliance at the California Department of Education, and his staff.

On April 23, the board was discussing a state Senate bill that could affect Westminster’s English-only instruction.

Verrengia said he asked the board to oppose the bill because it would give Gold’s office more control, but denied labeling him a member of the Communist Party.

“My exact quote, and I’ve checked the transcripts, was that the bill would put control over to ‘Norman Gold and his merry band of Communists,’ ” Verrengia said. “I never said Gold himself was a Communist.”

Blumenthal, however, said she thinks the comments slandered Gold. She also said it was an especially dangerous charge to make because if it is true, Gold could lose his job.

“I’m personally very embarrassed by the situation,” she said.

Verrengia said he has no plans to apologize, since his comments referred to the way Gold’s staff dealt with the district’s waiver committee last year.

“They made them jump through hoops like you wouldn’t believe,” he said. “They would do what was asked and then there would be another thing put in their path.”

Gold was out of the state Wednesday and was not available for comment.

Verrengia, elected in 1994, leads a conservative three-vote majority on the five-member board.

He and trustees Sondra Rinker and Helena Rutkowski voted this month to buy out the last two years of Gail Wickstrom’s contract as superintendent, citing philosophical and political differences.

The Westminster school board meets at 7 tonight at 14121 Cedarwood Ave.

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