A popular Facebook group called Reopen California Schools was mysteriously shut down last week.
“We’re not going to be deterred. We’re not going to be beaten down. We will continue forward,” group founder Jonathan Zachreson told The Epoch Times.
Many parents have relied heavily on Reopen California Schools for information to help them navigate their way throughout the pandemic, and “they’re devastated to see it taken down,” he said.
“I’ve gotten a lot of support. A lot of them are angry and are going to do whatever they need to do to help get it back.”
The shutdown comes in the wake of a call from Facebook “whistleblower” Frances Haugen for increased censorship, a complaint (pdf) from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) linking parents protesting at local school board meetings with “domestic terrorism,” and a sympathetic response from U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
In recent months, parents have attended school board meetings to voice their concerns over neo-Marxist critical race theory (CRT) being taught in California classrooms under the guise of ethnic studies, as well to protest masks and COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
“I wouldn’t say my group specifically was targeted in this whole thing, but I do believe that recent events with the Attorney General, the [National] School Boards Association and this fake whistleblower testimony calling for more voices on Facebook to be censored … opened the door for people at Facebook to start shutting down groups,” Zachreson said.
“I have no communication from Facebook. Zero. There was no warning … so I’m really surprised this happened,” he said.
Zachreson said he hasn’t received any recent warnings on any posts or comments, and that he prides himself in closely moderating posts on the site to make sure they’re “being factual.”
Because his group hasn’t violated any Facebook rules, Zachreson said, “I’m left to speculate … so really it makes me believe that it has something to do with them trying to suppress parents’ voices.”
At last count, Reopen California Schools had more than 18,400 members.
“I’ve submitted two requests to Facebook Help for what it’s worth,” he said. “When you report a problem, there’s not really an easy way to do it. You can’t appeal if the group is gone. I can’t even see the group. It’s like it’s gone.”
Since his group was shut down, there has been some chatter on social media of Facebook banning other parent groups, he said.
“I did hear that there was a New York mom’s group that was against mask mandates. They got shut down on the same day that my group got shut down, so I do believe there’s probably going to be more to come. Maybe there are smaller groups that haven’t been reported yet,” Zachreson said.
“I find it really surprising that we were targeted. I believe, part of it might be that we’ve e been so effective at bringing stories to light on a lot of controversial issues that have come up,” he said.
“We have been one of the more effective groups at getting change in California,” Zachreson said.
“We’re suing Gov. Newsom’s CDPH and a few others … over their state reopening guidance in California, specifically the mask mandates, quarantine protocols and testing protocols,” he said.
The groups believe masks should be optional.
“There should be mask choice for students and teachers,” Zachreson said.
Reopen California Schools also plans to help organize and fight to get school choice initiatives on the ballot in 2022.
He suspects the site might have been targeted because it supported the gubernatorial recall election, the results of which have still not been certified, and “maybe the fact that we’re suing Gov. Newsom.”
Zachreson said for now he is waiting to hear back from Facebook.
“I’m hoping that they reverse it and fix whatever issue is causing this, and they offer an explanation and apology,” he said.
In the meantime, Zachreson is directing parents to his website: ReopenCaliforniaSchools.com and other social media sites.
Two parents have expressed their dismay about the Reopen California Schools shutdown on the group’s Twitter site, @ReopenCASchools.
MamaEsq tweeted: “Honestly, this is very upsetting. Your group provided a wealth of information and knowledge from lawsuits to different school options and so on. Many of us would have been completely lost without it.”
MG wrote: “Wow, just checked and it’s gone. This group helped so many parents navigate the last 18 months, helped with alternative school options, [and] navigating differences between counties/districts, etc.”