CUSD update: censorship against administrator Keszei filed, meeting ends abruptly after administrator Antrim shares threats of violence
In an unusual move, CUSD board chairman Lee Pontes interrupted the regular board meeting on Thursday, October 21, four hours later, but just before the scheduled no-confidence vote of the Administrator Stacy Keszei and just minutes after Administrator Whitney Antrim alleged threats of violence, harassment and intimidation from members of the public.
“We have some care to do tonight in Coronado,” Pontes said. “We are not continuing this meeting… We all need to go home and adjust to what we have heard tonight. The meeting adjourned. “
The meeting, which included a police presence of at least three officers, compared to normal, included agenda item 5.1, the censorship hearing against Administrator Stacy Keszei. The administrator, who faced censorship for allegedly leaking confidential board communications, drew several supporters who spoke in his defense. Community member Mary Scyocurka said Keszei was in fact the main vote winner in the last school board election and was supported by community members, while local Bill Pate argued that all the situation was a “fast lane” for the Superior Court and a “stain” on the community of Coronado.
Lawyer Michael Giorgino, who spoke on behalf of administrator Keszei, argued that none of the emails or documents Keszei shared with other members of the community met the privacy requirements set out by board policy, nor did it violate policies 9005 and 9011 as alleged by members of the board of directors Antrim and administrator Dr. Anderson-Cruz in a written statement.
“You can’t say, ‘we don’t like her and we’re going to censor her anyway,'” said Giorgino, who gave a 30-minute presentation in Keszei’s defense and also previously identified himself as the lawyer. from Us parents Coronado. “I say follow the law.”
The communications in question, which included an email from CUSD athletic director Robin Nixon following the Tortilla Gate fiasco, and another chain of emails insulting a board member and calling for a petition on Change.org for council chairman Pontes and superintendent Karl Mueller to be fired. , were obtained as part of a request for public documents. This included speaking to Mayor Richard Bailey, as well as talking to other community members, some of whom were present at the council meeting.
Administrator Esther Valdez-Clayton said the biggest issue was ethics; Has Keszei fulfilled her duties as a director in accordance with the Board Membership Policy? Dr Anderson-Cruz said she wanted to find “a solution that worked” and felt the advice was not working.
“I want to move on and get back to the kids,” Dr. Anderson-Cruz said.
According to a CUSD FAQ, board policy defines censorship as “a formal resolution of the board formally reprimanding one of its members.” The consequences of censorship, as explained by the document, serve as a public reprimand, for a director to respect his duties as defined by law and board policy.
At several points in the meeting, board members said they felt they were unable to conduct board business over the past few months, fearing that private board information might not be confidential.
Administrator Antrim said she felt victimized herself as a result of information leaked to the public. While some of her initial comments elicited laughter and taunt, the room fell silent when she shared some of her experiences at Valdez-Clayton’s request. This included posting a photo of Antrim with his two children on the We the Parents Coronado website (which has since been taken down at his request) as well as posting his home address on social media. She said she believed much of the harassment was rooted in the gossip and disinformation leaked by the board. Many threats have already been noted in an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“I have received threats of violence against me over and over again,” Antrim said. “I was interviewed by the FBI. I was questioned by the public prosecutor. These threats are real. They have consequences. And that you sit here and make fun of them, as a neighbor, as people that I sit with and have coffee… how cruel can you be? “
The board took a break right after Antrim’s comments, which ended with his tearful recognition of his family in the audience. Immediately after the session resumed, Pontes interrupted the meeting.
Censorship has been filed — for now — and no further council business has been conducted. Other items on the agenda, which included the Silver Strand Elementary School annual report, a report from the Learning Department that included data on AP placements and CASLE’s update on the quality of education. ‘air. Business not discussed will be carried over to the next council meeting, depending on the district. This may or may not include a vote of no confidence. Also not discussed and postponed to another meeting: revisions to board policy regarding civility.
Earlier in the evening, several members of the public spoke on behalf of the We the Parents Coronado group, including Robert Grobe, who described himself, along with others in the group, as “hardworking people and fear God ”and who care about academic excellence. . He explained that the word “fairness” is a defining feature of critical race theory and remains entrenched in district documents, reports and policies.
Jim Fabiszak, who identified himself as a leader of We the Parents Coronado, said the district faces a lack of trust from worried parents. He questioned the validity of the policy outlined in agenda item 6.1, which he said unjustifiably calls for a policy of civility and hate-motivated behavior, as it ultimately functions as a punishment for parents expressing their First Amendment rights. He said his organization had collected enough signatures to create an agenda item as an affirmation of the rights of parents to participate in their children’s education.
“I hope that the voice of reason and of truth will prevail in these troubled times,” said Fabiszak. “We parents are watching. “
Community member Kevin Schaeffer expressed concern over what he called the errors and poor judgment of the CUSD administration, along with a social media post shared by administrator Antrim that said some members of the community felt terrorized by “marginal groups”. He acknowledged his experiences of victimization, but questioned his claim that a local group of parents were responsible for the acts.
“Personally, I find the publication of [home] addresses, [violent] social media language like that, and any action on your property disgusting… just disgusting, ”Shaeffer said, speaking to Antrim. He later said: “Anyone who utters threats, intimidates or is violent, this is absolutely wrong and should be condemned by anyone with any sense of decency.
Video of the meeting can be viewed here:
The meeting agenda can be viewed here.
The next board meeting is set for Thursday, November 18e.