School Board Caught on Zoom Call Bad-mouthing Parents Resigns After Controversy
Members of the Oakley Union Elementary School District Board in California came under fire after a virtual board meeting on February 17. The problem? The board couldn't resist trash-talking parents—but didn't realize the meeting was being broadcast to the community.
During the public meeting, the San Francisco Bay Area school board members completely let loose when it came to their frustration with parents—making disparaging comments and even using profanity.
"Are we alone?" board member Kim Beede asks, not realizing the meeting was already open to the public, before lamenting about parents questioning the district about schools reopening for in-person learning. "B***h if you're going to call me out, I'm going to f**k you up."
The president of the school board, Lisa Brizendine, echoed Beede's annoyance at being targeted by parents demanding answers. "They forget that there's real people on the other side of those letters that they're writing," Brizendine responds. "It's really unfortunate that they want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back."
Another board member, Richie Masadas, took it one step further—implying parents simply wanted their kids back in school so they could smoke marijuana freely at home.
"I totally hear that, because my brother had a delivery service for medical marijuana, and the clientele were parents with their kids in school," Masadas says. "When you got your kids at home, no more smoking."
Shortly after, one board member realized they weren't actually having a private conversation. "Uh oh," Beede says. "We have the meeting open to the public right now."
Not only was the meeting not private but someone watching quickly began recording what was happening and uploaded it to YouTube, writing, "I only wish for our local public school to be run by better people."
Parents, whose children have been learning remotely for nearly a year due to the pandemic, were outraged—and rightly so. An online petition called for the board members to step down and even garnered support from the mayor of Oakley.
"Quite frankly, I am embarrassed for our community as this meeting has now gone both national internationally at a time when we are not only trying to stop the spread of the virus, but also try and safely reopen schools," Mayor Sue Higgins said in a statement. "I encourage the remaining board members to do the right thing and step down."
By Friday, all four board members—Brizendine, Beede, Masadas, and Erica Ippolito—had resigned.
"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."