Parents in Oakley are outraged and calling for the resignation of the Oakley Union Elementary School Board after board members were caught making controversial comments like parents think the teachers are "babysitters" and reopening schools would allow parents to go back "smoking pot" during a virtual meeting. The board thought that the meeting was private but was open to the public.
The Oakley Union Elementary School Board conducted an online meeting via Webex on Wednesday to discuss whether it would be safe to reopen schools amid fears of the coronavirus spreading. Parents were also allowed to dial in and discuss plans for their children's return to schools. However, most of the board members didn't realize that the meeting was public and in the process made some harsh comments that left the parents offended.
Several of the board members allegedly believed that no parents were on the call and started making fun of them during the virtual meeting. According to an ABC7 report, one of the members Kim Beede first asked her colleagues "Are we alone?"
When the other members confirmed that it was private and no one could hear them speaking, Beede started imitating herself and threatening parents who had written letters about school re-openings. "B**ch, if you are going to call me out I am going to f**k you up! Sorry! That's just me," Beede can be heard mocking parents, while other board members start giggling.
But that's not where things stopped. The rude joke inspired others to join in. She was soon joined by another member Lisa Brizendine who said that some parents think of teachers as their personal babysitters. "They don't know what goes on behind the scenes. It's really unfortunate they want to pick on us. They want their babysitters back," she can be heard saying during the meeting.
And then came one of the most controversial statements from board member Richie Masadas, who implied on the call that parents just want their kids back in school so they can sit home and smoke pot. "My brother had a delivery service for medical marijuana and he delivered to parents while their kids were at school," Masadas said.
Unfortunately, the members didn't realize that they rude jokes could be heard by the parents who felt extremely offended and hurt. They have now come together and signed a Change.org petition titled 'Oakley Union Elementary School District Board Members - Resign immediately or be recalled'.
More than 2,500 parents have so far signed the petition. Several parents left comments, with one saying: "My kids deserve better than this violent and uncaring bunch of bullies."
Another parent Lisa Brizendine who was one of the mute participants during the meeting could be heard saying: "They don't know what we [inaudible] behind the scenes, and it's really unfortunate that they want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back."
"I thought the board members were also advocates for my child and had her best interests at heart and after last night's incident it really has me thinking that they don't," yet another parent said.
However, the board members later realized that their comments could be heard and stopped. But by that time the damage was already done. School Superintendent Greg Hetrick had to release a statement addressing the scandal.
"The comments made were not in alignment with our vision and are definitely not what any of us stand for as leaders. I know that we lost trust with the community. I will not make excuses for what happened or why it happened. I am the superintendent. I am responsible and accountable and I am truly sorry for what took place.... I know that our students deserve better from us," read a part of the statement but that hasn't stopped more parents into signing the petition.