State Watch

CA school district’s board resigns after unknowingly talking about parents in virtual meeting

The entire board of trustees for a Northern California school district resigned after they made inappropriate remarks about parents during a Zoom call that was unknowingly being broadcast to the public. 

Oakley Union Elementary School District Superintendent Greg Hetrick in a letter to the district’s families Friday announced the board members’ resignations following their Wednesday meeting, a portion of which was recorded and posted on YouTube. 

The board for the Oakley Union school district, serving about 5,000 students just east of San Francisco, in a Zoom call initially thought the meeting was not yet open to the public, according to ABC News

In the call, part of which was posted to Twitter by NBC News Bay Area reporter Bigad Shabad, trustee Kim Beede could be heard saying, “Are we alone?” before adding, “B—- if you’re going to call me out, I’m going to f— you up.”

The president of the school board, Lisa Brizendine, then went on to describe the criticism they have received in letters from parents pushing for schools to return to in-person classrooms. The elementary school district is currently only allowing distanced learning amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Brizendine said in the call, “They forget that there’s real people on the other side of those letters that they’re writing,” and then added, “It’s really unfortunate that they want to pick on us, because they want their babysitters back.”

Another school board member, Richie Masadas, then chimed in that his brother had a delivery service for medical marijuana and that his primary clients were parents with school-age children. 

“When you got your kids at home, no more smoking,” he added.

Beede eventually could be heard saying, “Uh-oh. We have the meeting open to the public right now.”

“Nuh-uh,” Brezendine responded, after which the meeting was then switched to private. 

At the end of the meeting, Brezendine apologized for the group’s earlier remarks, saying “We were having a private conversation because we were really struggling at that moment with all the board comments coming in because we want what’s best for the kids so badly.” 

Herrick also issued a statement apologizing for the incident, calling the members’ comments “truly inappropriate,” and on Friday announced to the community that the board had resigned. 

The letter to the school district’s families included a statement from Beede, Masadas and fellow member Erica Ippolito, who wrote they “deeply regret the comments that were made,” and that they failed to fulfill their “responsibility to model the conduct that we expect of our students and staff,” and their “obligation to build confidence in District leadership.”

Tags ABC California coronavirus pandemic distance learning Elementary School NBC school reopening Twitter virtual learning YouTube Zoom
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