School Board – San Francisco- Board of Education- Greg Hetrick.
February 20, 2021
TrueNewsblog- The entire school board for the Oakley Union Elementary School District abruptly resigned Friday, two days after members were caught on an open microphone disparaging parents and using profane language at the start of a virtual board meeting.
The loss of the school board in the Contra Costa County city prompted the county’s Board of Education to immediately appoint two of its members to temporarily oversee the district. A third appointee is pending. The temporary board will be in place until new school board members are elected or appointed, said school district Superintendent Greg Hetrick.
The crisis for the district comes amid the coronavirus school shutdown and as parents have pushed their local boards to reopen schools.
It was that issue that led to the open mike comments Wednesday. Before the meeting officially began, board members talked casually about parents who have complained about children still in distance learning. They did not realize as they spoke that the online meeting was already opened to the public and that their comments could be heard by others.
Board President Lisa Brizendine commented that “it’s really unfortunate that they have to pick on us because they want their babysitters back.” Other board members agreed. One used profanity in referring to a parent and the group laughed as they mocked parents.
At one point, a listener messaged the group to say their comments were being heard.
“Nah-uh,” Brizendine said. Then upon realizing the comments had been heard, she said, sarcastically, “Great.”
Video of the meeting, which was later uploaded to YouTube, immediately caused a furor among parents, and led to a petition that called for the resignations of the board members involved.
In a letter Friday addressed to district families, Hetrick said Brizendine and the other board members, Kim Beede, Erica Ippolito and Richie Masadas submitted their resignations. A fifth spot on the board was vacant.
Beede, Ippolito and Masadas issued a joint statement saying they “deeply regret the comments that were made in the meeting of the Board of Education earlier this week.”
“As trustees, we realize it is our responsibility to model the conduct that we expect of our students and staff, and it is our obligation to build confidence in District leadership; our comments failed you in both regards, and for this we offer our sincerest apology,” they wrote.
Hetrick called the comments “unfortunate and truly inappropriate.” He said the school district is going to continue efforts to “bring our students back to school.”
On Friday after the resignations, county education board President Annette Lewis appointed herself and county board member Mike Maxwell to the Oakley school board.
“I look forward to working with the (Oakley) community to determine the best course of action to fill these seats with people who will represent the best interests of students, families, teachers and school staff,” Lewis said.
The Oakley board needs three members to have a quorum. The third vacancy will be filled either by county board members Consuelo Lara or Alaina Villeda.
Brizendine did not respond to emails and a phone call seeking comment Friday.
She apologized for remarks she described as “callous and uncalled for” in a statement provided to KTVU News. She said she is raising a child with special needs while holding down two jobs, describing the situation as a “huge stress.”