Opinion: To End Angry School Board Meetings, Parents’ Feelings Must Be Validated


Powell is a former member of the San Diego County School Board and President of Parents For Quality Education. He lives in the university town.

When calls for police funding were in full force, the California School Boards Association and the National School Boards Association did not oppose efforts by school districts to limit or completely remove police from campus. Now, the same associations that have remained surprisingly silent as calls to eliminate school policing have been speeded up are pushing for increased police presence at school board meetings. But as the saying goes, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too. “

For memory :

2:45 p.m. Nov 1, 2021An earlier version of this comment inaccurately characterized a letter written by the California School Boards Association regarding parental protests at school board meetings. Only the National School Boards Association equated these protests with domestic terrorism and hate crimes while calling for intervention and investigation of federal agencies.

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The California School Boards Association and the National School Boards Association recently called on Governor Gavin Newsom and President Joe Biden, respectively, to use local and federal agencies, respectively, to protect school boards from what they claim to be unprecedented attacks by students at the school. board meetings.

The National School Boards Association claimed the attacks were nothing less than domestic terrorism and hate crimes. He is also calling on the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the US Postal Service to investigate threat letters and online messages sent to students, school board members and staff.

In other words, the CSBA and NSBA want more police protection for elected members of their school board.

Many school boards have called for fewer police officers on campus and more social services in schools. At least six California school districts this year approved efforts to eliminate school policing or cut funding. Ironically, these districts use the police as security to protect school board members during board meetings.

In California, 23 school districts have their own police departments, San Diego Unified being one, while other districts contract with local police or sheriff departments. Some educators and elected officials say school districts should divert money spent on police and use it to hire more school counselors, psychologists and social workers to support students – hence one of the reasons for funding the police.

Having more student services makes sense as these positions offer great support to teachers and complement a team that can effectively meet the educational needs of students, leading to increased student achievement. However, funding for additional support services should not come at the expense of our school policing.

Removing policing from schools makes our students and board members less secure and leads to even more communication failures between the public and law enforcement, which is the opposite of what is needed.

One of the reasons members of the public disrupt school board meetings is because of the frustration of not being recognized or validated. It is human nature to want our feelings recognized. Parents want their anxieties to be noticed and their concerns recognized by school board members. After all, schools are meant to be our children’s second homes. Parents send their children to school to learn and help them grow into informed adults, but parents also willingly send them because they believe their children will be safe and well cared for in school. Parents hold our elected school board members accountable for making sure this happens and voice their feelings and concerns on all student issues at school board meetings.

Parents don’t necessarily want board members to agree with their feelings, but they do want their feelings validated in public. And when board members remain silent on the platform and fail to acknowledge a parent’s feelings, it can lead to greater frustration and possibly anger, resentment, or even rage.

Board members are sometimes warned by their legal counsel not to respond to comments made by participants for fear of litigation or violation of board policies. Some school boards even limit the number of speakers and comments on a particular topic, which can create frustration and anger. However, there is a solution.

School board policies and board meeting procedures should be changed to allow for some dialogue between voters and board members, and all speakers should have the right to speak. In addition, even before their first school board meeting, our elected school board members must be trained in conflict resolution and media communication.

It would go a long way to avert outbursts from frustrated parents who are fed up with mask warrants, mandatory vaccination requirements, and indoctrination seen as critical of race theory. Changing the way we hold our school board meetings sounds hopelessly simple, and in a way it is. And yet, that little emotional recognition at board meetings will go a long way in reducing the frustration and anger parents are currently feeling.

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