The California School Boards Association (CSBA) sent a letter to Governor Newsom requesting state assistance for school board meetings citing the alleged “onslaught” of parents who “lash out” at school board meetings.
“We are increasingly witnessing active attempts to undermine the democratic process through intimidation, threats, and violence,” writes Vernon M. Billy, the CEO & Executive Director of the CSBA. He claims that school board members have been “accosted, verbally abused, physically assaulted, and subjected to death threats” by citizens at school board meetings.
With similar language to the National School Boards Association (NSBA) letter to President Biden, the CSBA essentially accuses parents of endangering school trustees, school employees, and members of the public at school board meetings. Billy also stated that “when the governance process is derailed, the group that suffers most is California’s students.” Thus, the CSBA claims that students are suffering because of their parents’ actions, not because of the radical school board policies that are bringing parents to meetings in the first place.
To make matters worse, in the letter the CSBA also accuses local law enforcement present at school board meetings of not doing their job and even endangering school board officials because they allegedly refused to restrain protestors.
The letter states:
“Yet, too often, when school districts contact local law enforcement authorities to restore order to these meetings or to enforce mask mandates and other safety measures, law enforcement declines. In numerous cases, law enforcement officers — in brazen defiance of the law and their professional oath — have explicitly stated they will not enforce safety mandates or restrain those whose actions willfully disrupt a meeting and prevent it from proceeding. It bears noting that law enforcement has not always exhibited this level of reticence when dealing with protestors who exercise their constitutional right to peaceably assemble and protest.”
The CSBA ended the letter with a request that Governor Gavin Newsom as well as Attorney General Rob Bonta “convince, command, or otherwise urge local law enforcement to uphold public health and safety orders, help maintain order at local school board meetings when requested, and enforce the law as they are sworn to do.”
We do acknowledge there has been some bad behavior from angry parents at school board meetings, and if there are any attempts to illegally shut down public meetings or physically threaten elected officials, police should be involved. But there is a real concern that CSBA is exaggerating the acts of a few to discourage parents from speaking up at all.
Too many times, parents who are rightfully concerned with what’s occurring in California schools are being treated as the problem and now local law enforcement is being picked on because they allow people to continue exercising their Constitutional rights.
Not only is this inflammatory letter jarring, but it is incredibly disturbing that the increased involvement of parents at school board meetings is being looked upon as a negative development.
Parents are quickly losing their rights when it comes to their children’s education as well as safety and health. This is not what our government and Constitutional rights were established for.