State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond discovered Thursday that state officials are held to the same speaking time rules as ordinary citizens, at least where the Chino Valley School Board is concerned.
Accounts posted on Twitter show Thurmond being escorted from the board room after he attempted to return to the podium to respond to comments made by the board president after his one-minute of speaking time at the microphone.
Thurmond had tweeted that he was at the meeting at the invitation of local residents and in support of LGBTQ+ students who were speaking out about a proposed new policy that would require schools in the San Bernardino County district to notify parents if their child identifies as transgender.
Tonight I went to a school board meeting to stand up for LGBTQ+ students who invited me to join them as they spoke out against a radical new policy that threatens their safety. When done speaking,the board president verbally attacked me an instructed the police to remove me.(1/5)
— Tony Thurmond (@TonyThurmond) July 21, 2023
Thurmond had already spoken and returned to his seat when he was addressed by the board president, Sonja Shaw, who said the board was taking up the proposed policy “because of people like you. You’re in Sacramento, proposing things that pervert children.”
Shaw, who had to shout to be heard over the audience members jeering her, chastised Thurmond for “walking with my opponent” on the campaign trail.
California’s schools chief went before a conservative school board tonite to oppose their plan to notify district parents if their child is transgender.
Tony Thurmond got heckled, admonished by a local official and then was escorted from the meeting. pic.twitter.com/fIIkDlFUqm
— Christopher Cadelago (@ccadelago) July 21, 2023
Thurmond returned to the podium and tried to respond, but Shaw told him he had already had his time to speak and to sit down. When he refused to do so, calling “point of order,” Shaw and another board member left the dais, and security guards approached to escort Thurmond from the meeting.
Politico reported that GOP Assemblymember Bill Essayli, who has authored a similar bill about informing parents if a student comes out as trans, was also at the meeting, and took to the podium after Thurmond was removed.
“Let me just say one thing,” Essayli told the board. “Mr. Thurmond was granted more respect and decorum than I have even been by the supermajority Democrats in Sacramento.“
The board ultimately voted to adopt the policy.
Tony Thurmond, California State Superintendent of Schools, addressed the Chino Valley Unified school board during public comments. He had about a minute to speak, after he finished & sat down Pres Shaw addressed him, he stood back up & walked back to mic to respond. Then this: pic.twitter.com/Npgx6EhCeF
— InMinivanHell (@inminivanhell) July 21, 2023
The board later voted to approve the policy.
Thurmond, who is considering a 2026 run for governor, posted on Twitter that he didn’t mind being thrown out.
“I can take the heat — it’s part of the job,” he tweeted. “What I can’t accept is the mistreatment of vulnerable students whose privacy is being taken away.”
Intervention by State Officials
Thurmond’s appearance marks the second incident in recent weeks of state officials intervening in local School Board issues in Southern California districts.
In June, the Temecula Unified School Board in Riverside County voted to reject a state-recommended social studies book for students in grades K-5 because of its celebration of Harvey Milk, a gay San Francisco politician who one board member referred to as a “pedophile” because of his relationship with a teenage boy in another state when Milk was in his 30s.
Milk, the first openly gay person elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, was assassinated by a former supervisor who also gunned down San Francisco Mayor George Moscone in City Hall in 1978.
After the board voted again this week to reject the book, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s response was to have the state order the books for delivery to the district and send the bill to — and impose a fine on — the district.
“The three political activists on the school board have yet again proven they are more interested in breaking the law than doing their jobs of educating students — so the state will do their job for them,” Newsom said in a news release.
“California will ensure students in Temecula begin the school year with access to materials reviewed by parents and recommended by teachers across the district. After we deliver the textbooks into the hands of students and their parents, the state will deliver the bill — along with a $1.5 million fine — to the school board for its decision to willfully violate the law, subvert the will of parents, and force children to use an out-of-print textbook from 17 years ago.”
Prior to Thursday’s vote by the School Board, Attorney General Rob Bonta had sent an “urgent” letter to the School Board and the district’s superintendent urging them to safeguard students’ rights to privacy and promising to take appropriate action to protect students’ civil rights.
“The protection of every student’s privacy and safety is of utmost importance, and that includes protecting their right to choose when, how, and with whom they share their gender identity. That is a personal decision for them, and them alone,” Bonta said in a news release.