Fresno Unified Trustee Keshia Thomas displayed her multitasking skills last Wednesday when she appeared at both the School Board meeting and an overlapping meeting of the economic development organization Transform Fresno.
Both were held virtually. Thomas, who is clerk of the School Board, was introduced at the Transform Fresno meeting as the new community engagement consultant with the Clean Shared Mobility Network project team that’s being led by the Fresno Metro Black Chamber Foundation.
Transform Fresno is a project that’s funded by the city’s Transformative Climate Communities Program and is intended to improve the economies and environments of downtown Fresno, Chinatown, and southwest Fresno through investments.
How could she be in two places at once? The credit goes in part to Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
About 12 minutes into the School Board meeting, Thomas opened up a laptop that blocked the lower half of her webcam connecting her to the School Board meeting.
While the rest of the trustees were offering their congratulations to Misty Her, whose promotion to deputy superintendent was approved Wednesday, Thomas was on mute for the School Board meeting and appeared to be having a separate conversation, and shortly after turned off her School Board webcam. She offered her congratulations to Her later in the meeting.
Also in School Zone:
- Fresno trustee responds to fellow trustee’s diatribe.
- Congratulations to these Fresno students.
Board president Valerie Davis told School Zone on Monday that she was unaware that Thomas had left the School Board meeting to speak at another meeting. Trustees typically give her a heads-up if they have to step away for a break or a beverage, or for some other reason, she said.
As for leaving the School Board meeting for another meeting, Davis said that work life sometimes interferes with School Board duties. “Some of us have to do what we need to do for work,” she said.
Thomas did not respond to an interview request from School Zone on Monday.
Update: On Tuesday, Thomas said she had notified the board’s chief of staff that she would need to join another meeting during the School Board meeting. “I didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “It’s very rare that I would have to leave, but I have to work. I have a son to raise, a mortgage to pay, PG&E.”
Need to Maintain Civility
Also at Wednesday’s board meeting, Fresno Unified Trustee Veva Islas responded to Thomas’ angry chastisement of her fellow board members last month over how the School Board handled her son-in-law’s charter school application at the Jan. 13 meeting.
During her eight-minute tirade, Thomas had specifically called out Islas and Trustee Carol Mills. But at the end, only Davis had a response, and that was to note mildly that the Golden Charter Academy application ultimately had been approved by the board.
Islas held out an olive branch of sorts last Wednesday.
“I just want to say that we had a difficult meeting, our last meeting, and that we will have differences as a board and that I hope that we maintain civility in those differences. I hope that we maintain respect and the ability to continue to work with each other. I have an open door. If anybody has any issues with me, with the decisions, with the comments, the questions that I make, you’re welcome to contact me directly. And I’m more than happy to have a civil conversation with you.
“And I hope we can learn from that experience and really move forward. We do have board members who are going through things. And we want to appreciate that we’re all human. We all have flaws. We all make mistakes. And we need to be big enough to apologize when we do and to extend each other, that leaf and that hand of civility and friendship and partnership. We need to do more than just saying that we’re willing to do that. We need to be role models for our students and our staff as well. So with that, I just want to thank you, President Thomas, for your — I’m sorry, President Davis, for your time.”
- Sunnyside High School students Jesse Hernandez, Marvin Rodriguez, Martin Barreras, Veronica Morales, and Devin Tang have been selected for the California Film Institute’s Movie Room National Teen Film Club. They are among 39 students — and the only ones from California — who will participate in monthly Zoom sessions after screening films. They’ll be working with Fresno Filmworks, a nonprofit that advocates for independent cinema, in this endeavor.
- Fresno State sophomore Lucca Lorenzi was presented the 2021 Paul DeRuosi Memorial Community Service Scholarship for his years of efforts to help young patients at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Lorenzi, a public relations major who hails from Merced, had two lifesaving operations at the hospital and later wanted to find ways to give back. He started with “Pack It Up for Packard,” gathering art supplies, and then began book drives to fill the empty shelves at the hospital library. To date, Lorenzi has collected over 7,000 art supplies and books for the hospital, and he also has created coloring sheets and art video tutorials. The $1,000 scholarship is sponsored by the DeRuosi family and is administered by the Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning at Fresno State.