A November 18 Coronado School Board Meeting recap for concerned parents committed to participating in setting standards for the education of their children follows-
The Good news:
A remarkable group of courageous students from Village Elementary stood up and spoke up for freedom of interaction in schools. Their message was that they are being stifled by excessive and unnecessary COVID-19 restrictions and school policies needlessly separating students. They presented a petition for “freedom of association during recess and lunch.” The students pointed out that at the same time students in Middle School and High School are authorized to meet face-to-face for dances, sporting events and other social gatherings, Village Elementary students are being denied similar opportunities for socialization. These young people were bold and articulate examples of courage and confident self-advocacy. They were a credit to the parents and families who entrust their children to Coronado Schools.
On a few central issues of parental concern, the Trustees may have begun to suggest they are finally “hearing” rather than merely “listening” to parents anxious about public education trends. Such parents have been speaking up at Board Meetings regularly for more than eight months. The purpose of parental involvement is to establish a more productive partnership with CUSD administrators.
Based on parental input, the Trustees voted not to add any new and potentially pejorative terms to Board Policy 1313 Civility. A lone Trustee, Whitey Antrim, continued advocating for modification of the Civility Policy language. She expressed a desire to revisit the proposal on the agenda in the future. The Trustees also tabled, for future review and discussion, consideration of changes to Board Policy 5145.9, Hate-Motivated Behavior, after the parents expressed misgivings about the potential application of the proposed policy changes. The Board and Staff entertained community concerns about plans to use a block grant of $711,000 to fund problematic staff development training promoting social emotional learning techniques tied to critical race theory. The Superintendent and Staff acknowledged community concerns and indicated more work by staff would be done before any such plans are considered for Trustee approval. The Trustees initially rejected a proposed Resolution for the Free Speech of Parents. Trustee Pontes characterized such a resolution as codifying CUSD Board support for “a political act.” Prior to adjourning, the Trustees committed to review the petition that was signed by 420 plus people and consider the resolution on the next Agenda.
The Bad News:
On some issues of parental concern, the Trustees “listened” but were seemingly impervious to pleas of parents concerned for the safety of their children:
Several parents who were present spoke up regarding the disturbing public protest that threatened COSA students on November 8. An organized group of political activists and protesters from outside Coronado assembled in front of the High School and shouted race-baiting insults and obscenities at CHS students. They chalked obscenities on the school building and grounds. Activists tagged the school with swastikas, effectively labeling Coronado’s student body as the modern-day equivalent of Nazis. According to the Coronado Police Department, had school administrators requested the vandalism and harassment to be stopped, CPD would have taken action to do so. The Superintendent, who watched the events unfold in real time, purposefully decided not to make such a request. He offered no explanation for his lack of affirmative response to the threat the race-baiting political activists posed to school security or the students still on campus.
Neither the Board nor the Superintendent accepted any responsibility for the District’s strategy to not intervene to protect the security of the school with students present. The administration appeared apathetic about indicators that there will be such incidents in the future. There was no discussion of strategies to prevent such incidents. In a disturbing portent, a group showed up in the Board Room with signs labeling Coronado High School Students “racists.” Trustees Valdes-Clayton and Pontes seemed to offer their support for these political activist’s free speech rights; the same rights they earlier declined to formally recognize for parents and taxpayers by resolution.
The new School Board meeting protocols for community comment were dutifully obeyed. These changes burden the public by providing no certainty of timing for public comment on non-agenda items. The changes did nothing to shorten the meeting. They required community members and parents wanting to speak to form a cattle line for no discernable purpose. An attorney who spoke maintained such changes were illegal under California law. None of the changes were repealed after Trustee discussion.
Trustees discussed, but did not embrace, the idea of holding two Board meetings each month to develop a more transparent communication partnership with concerned parents and citizens now alert to the importance of far more active and engaged participation with the school district in the education of their children.