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The entire board of one California school district resigned after they were overheard bashing parents publicly during a live virtual meeting.
The board members of the Oakley Union Elementary School district resigned on Friday, two days after a meeting where trustees thought their conversation was private. Instead, it was a public meeting that was recorded and shared online. During the meeting board members complained about parents who criticized them on social media and called for schools to reopen. They implied that the parents wanted their “babysitters back” so they could stay home and smoke weed.
“Are we alone?” one board member, Kim Beede asks, before saying, “Bitch, if you’re going to call me out, I’m going to fuck you up.”
The president of the school board, Lisa Brizendine, laments that school officials are being targeted amid frustration over reopening for in-person learning.
“They forget that there’s real people on the other side of those letters that they’re writing,” Brizendine says. “It’s really unfortunate that they want to pick on us, because they want their babysitters back.”
A third school board member, Richie Masadas, says in response, “I totally hear that, because my brother had a delivery service for medical marijuana, and the clientele were parents with their kids in school.”
“When you got your kids at home, no more smoking,” he added.
The comments followed a discussion with Superintendent Greg Hetrick on limiting public comment to three minutes.
“I think that would be amazing,” one board member says.
At one point, one of the board members realizes the meeting isn’t private.
“Uh oh,” Beede says. “We have the meeting open to the public right now.”
“Nuh uh,” says Brizendine.
“Great,” says a board member, before a black screen with the text “Practice session in progress” appears.
As you can imagine, parents were pissed after hearing this conversation. In response to listening to the recording, enraged families circulated a petition demanding the board members resign “due to their egregious behavior.”
“I thought the board members were also advocates for my child and had her best interests at heart. After [Wednesday’s] incident, it really has me thinking that they don’t,” a parent named Ashley Stalf told ABC. “They see us writing letters monthly, weekly, to the board members, detailing our stresses and grief about distance learning...for them to say we are doing nothing and sitting home and smoking pot is far from the truth.”
In a joint statement announcing their resignation, board members said they “deeply regret” their comments.
“This was a difficult decision, but we hear the community’s concerns, and we believe yielding to your request that we step down will allow the district to move forward,” they said. “Please do not let our failure in judgment cast a shadow on the exceptional work that our teachers, administrators and hard-working employees are doing for the students of this district. They deserve and will need your support as you move forward.”