Pledge of Allegiance request at board meeting met with laughter, jeering

Request made by Sweetwater Trustee John McCann

CHULA VISTA, Calif. -  

 

The audience at Monday night's Sweetwater Union High School District Board of Trustees meeting laughed and jeered at a request to say the Pledge of Allegiance and observe a moment of silence for 9/11 victims.

During the meeting, Trustee John McCann asked the board to say the Pledge of Allegiance because the board forgot to do it at the beginning of the meeting. In an audio recording of that meeting, McCann is heard requesting that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited, followed by round of laughter from the crowd.

"Miss Quinones?" McCann can be heard saying. "I request that we do a Pledge of Allegiance."

The crowd bursts out into laughter, and then McCann continued to ask for a moment of silence "for the victims of 9/11 seeing that tomorrow is September 11th."

McCann's request is then followed by more outbursts from the audience.

"I was really sick to my stomach and disgusted," said McCann.

The former Chula Vista City Councilman and Iraq War veteran said the jeering came from members of Occupy Sweetwater, a watchdog group made up of parents in the community.

"I think it really exposed their agenda of deceit and hate," he said.

"The moans and groans you hear aren't about the Pledge of Allegiance. They're about John McCann making it about himself again," said Stewart Payne, who was in the audience Monday night.

Payne said parents are frustrated with the board and its policies. They were there that night because rumors swirled that Superintendent Ed Brand would get a new two-year contract. The Occupy Sweetwater group is insisting the district do a national search for a new superintendent.

Two trustees are under indictment for a contractor bribery scandal, Brand just got a vote of no confidence from the district's Bond Oversight Committee and signatures are being gathered to recall McCann.

Despite those problems, McCann told 10News the behavior at Monday night's meeting was inexcusable.

"They need to start acting like adults," said McCann.

10News also learned McCann filed a temporary restraining order against Payne last April after they apparently had a confrontation after a board meeting.

Payne accused McCann of making some disparaging remarks to the media about Payne. Afterwards, Payne refused to shake McCann's hand when he walked by.

"I told him I wasn't going to shake his hand," Payne said.

McCann said Payne then threatened him.

"[He] told me to 'get out of my face or I will knock you out' and he raised his hand," McCann said.

Payne denied threatening McCann.

10News obtained a copy of the temporary restraining order filed by McCann. It contained statements from a pastor and two security guards who said Payne threatened to assault McCann.

However, a judge later denied a permanent restraining order.

Both McCann and Payne said the focus should be on students and classrooms. However, the differences between the board and parents are standing in the way.

"I think the board is out of control," said Payne.

"What we should be doing is working together, focusing on our children's education," said McCann.

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