Chardá Bell-Fontenot, vice president of the La Mesa-Spring Valley School Board, railed on Tuesday against parents who want children to return to classrooms after nearly a year.
“Without any teachers, we don’t have the ability to teach the students, so that’s where we have to start. We can’t just say that kids can go back into the classrooms and there’s no vaccinated teachers there willing to do that,” she said, telling fellow board members she was struggling with understanding their arguments.
“So how are we forcing people? That seems like a very white supremacist ideology to force people to comply with and conform, without thinking about all of their intersecting factors and barriers that exist for all families,” she said. “We’re thinking about one type of family when you’re speaking right now. Just letting you know, privilege. Check it you guys. Okay.”
Another member attempted to speak, but Bell-Fontenot continued, saying: “You’re forcing people to do things they don’t want to do. Okay, that’s where I’m at. So, I don’t want to be a part of forcing anybody to do anything they don’t want to do. That’s what slavery is. I’m not gonna be a part of it.”
Another member said that teachers do want to return to classrooms, but only if they receive a vaccine against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.
“So why are we having this discussion about them not being vaccinated and going back into the classroom when they want to be vaccinated?” Bell-Fontenot said.
Also during the meeting, a member noted that results of a survey showing that 70 to 80 percent of parents support reopening schools, prompting Bell-Fontenot to say: “Who are the 70-80 percent and where are they? … Which school site? Which language group?”
The board ultimately voted in favor of reopening classrooms for in-person learning on April 19.
Bell-Fontenot and Board President Rebecca McRae didn’t return inquiries.
David Feliciano, superintendent of the La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools, told parents in a statement after the meeting that the board voted to reopen classrooms.
He also said Bell-Fontenot “behaved in a manner the Board does not condone, nor did her behavior represent our values and our commitments to our students, community, and to each other.”
Members of the board are elected officials and the district cannot release them, he added.
“While we were also disappointed and offended by Trustee Fontenot’s behavior, we were saddened to learn that she has received hateful, racist, and threatening communications as a result. The district will continue to forward all hate mail and threatening communications to law enforcement,” he said.
“We want to make it very clear that La Mesa-Spring Valley does not condone any behavior that disparages or bullies anyone. We strongly condemn behavior that is racist, discriminatory or threatens violence of any kind. We must embody our commitment to value and love our students, and our neighbors. In fact, last June, the Board of Trustees released the following equity statement to reaffirm our stand against discrimination and racism in all forms, most especially in our schools.”
After a similar incident last week, an entire school board stepped down.