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Community protests at Poway Unified as school board votes again to keep meetings virtual

Posted at 7:10 AM, Nov 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 10:10:40-05

POWAY, Calif. (KGTV) – Parents and other community members who hoped to have their voices heard in person at the Poway Unified School District’s board meeting Thursday night had to hold their protest outside as the board members continued to meet virtually.

One of the issues brought up by the group was critical race theory being taught at district schools.

“There is no diversity of thought. It’s all either you’re oppressed or an oppressor,” parent Tina Bartholomew said. “For people who think there’s something else, that’s not injected into the curriculum whatsoever. So, I think that I think it’s fine to teach those things, but you should have the flip side.”

Aside from a curriculum that Poway Unified denies teaching, protesters like radio host Carl DeMaio also had other issues.

An issue that was discussed by protesters was the district keeping board meetings virtual, which it said was due to protests and reported death threats. Protesters called for the meeting to be in-person again in order to be able to express their concerns in front of the school board.

In a press release from the Californian for Equal Rights Federation, it said, "PUSD recently announced they would discontinue in-person public meetings citing unsubstantiated 'threats,' the District claims it has received. Parents are demanding immediate transparency on these accusations."

“I challenge that administrator to produce any substantiation of that allegation or smear or resign your post immediately,” DeMaio said.

During the vote on whether to keep the next board meeting virtual, Poway Unified’s superintendent stated that a temporary restraining order was issued against a protestor who was involving during incidents in September and October at district headquarters.

“Pretty confident that if there wasn’t any illegal or inappropriate activity a judge wouldn’t not approve or issued this TRO,” PUSD Superintendent Dr. Marian Phelps said.

The board eventually voted to continue doing the meetings virtually in a 5-1 vote.

For the district employees who saw the outcome of these protests, they got what they were hoping for the district.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine having to peek out a window to see it was safe to go to my car,” a district employee said during public comment for the virtual meeting item.

One of the school board members said on Thursday night that the vote doesn’t mean that the district couldn’t come back to in-person meetings. It’s just deciding how the next one will be conducted.

There was also discussion that the meeting could be changed back to in-person after the vote occurred.