Oakley is a town in California about midway between San Francisco and Sacramento. Yesterday members of the Oakley Unified Elementary School District Board of Trustees gathered on a zoom call to prepare for a public meeting. They clearly didn’t realize that parents had already logged on to the meeting and could hear what they were saying. Unfortunately for them, one parent decided to record the meeting as it happened and uploaded video of it to YouTube.
Superintendent Gregory Hetrick talked about wanting to implement a new system for public comments which would require people to call in and leave a message which would automatically cut them off after three minutes.
Board member Kim Beede said something about someone who posted a critical comment about her on social media. “Are we alone,” she asked before saying how she really felt. After being assured the discussion was private she continued, “Bitch if you’re going to call me out I’m going to f**k you up. Sorry, that’s just me.”
That’s where another board member, Lisa Brizendine, chimed in to suggest parents were upset because they want their babysitters back.
“They don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. It’s really unfortunate they want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back,” said Brizendine.
Board member Richie Masadas joked that his brother had a medical marijuana service and “the clientele were parents with their kids in school.”
“When you got your kids at home no more smoking out,” Masadas added.
I’m sure there are some parents who just want their babysitter back but a lot of parents count on schools managing their kids during the day to allow them time to work outside the home. When kids are stuck at home trying to do school remotely that makes it very hard for parents to work, even if that work is also being done from home. In particular, parents of young children are having a hard time trying to do both things at once. It’s one of the reasons so many children are struggling with distance learning.
ABC 7 spoke to a couple of outraged parents who listened to the comments:
“I was shocked to hear the district is representing our children this way,” said parent Jennifer Cardinale.
“I thought the board members were also advocates for my child and had her best interests at heart. After last night’s incident, it really has me thinking that they don’t,” said parent Ashley Stalf…
“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,” Stalf said.
A Change.org petition was launched to call on the board members to resign. As I write this it has 1,785 signatures (out of a 2,500 signature goal). The description on the page says in part: “A recall would cost the district money that should be going to the kids. I am asking that the board members to resign immediately due to their egregious behavior. They should no longer represent the parents, teachers, and children in this school district.” Hard to argue with that.
Superintendent Greg Hetrick released a statement apologizing. Here’s a portion of that:
The comments made were not in alignment with our Vision and are definitely not what any of us stand for as leaders. I know that we lost trust with the community. I will not make excuses for what happened or why it happened. I am the superintendent. I am responsible and accountable and I am truly sorry for what took place.
Here’s the full video of the incident. You can skip about halfway in to get to the most controversial part.