Bay Area school board members resign after making disparaging comments about parents in virtual meeting

Brittny Mejia
·3 min read
Oakley Union Elementary School District in Oakley, Calif.
The Oakley Union Elementary School District headquarters in Oakley, Calif. (Google)

An entire San Francisco Bay Area school board resigned this week for making disparaging comments about parents during a virtual meeting the officials didn't realize was being broadcast to the public.

Four members of the Oakley Union Elementary School District Board of Trustees had stepped down by Friday, following an outcry from parents who obtained thousands of signatures on a petition calling for their resignations. It comes amid heightened tensions across the state regarding reopening schools.

In a letter to parents, Oakley Union District Supt. Greg Hetrick said that Contra Costa County education board members would be serving as interim board members for the district until official ones were selected.

"As a district, we will continue to proceed with the work that we are engaged in to bring our students back to school," Hetrick said.

The trouble began on Wednesday, during the regular meeting of the Board of Trustees, which was announced on the board's website along with a link for the public to join.

“Are we alone?" questioned Kim Beede, one of the board members, before giving her take on a critic: “B—, if you’re going to call me out, I’m going to f— you up.”

The others members laughed, before board President Lisa Brizendine chimed in, calling it unfortunate that parents "want to pick on us because they want their baby-sitters back."

Richie Masadas then added that his brother had a delivery service for medical marijuana and the clientele "were parents with their kids in school," appearing to suggest that that was why parents wanted their children out of the house.

Shortly after, Beede learned that they weren't as alone as she'd believed.

"We have the meeting open to the public right now," Beede told the other board members.

"Nuh uh," Brizendine said, before the screen went black.

The fallout was swift, with calls — including from the Oakley city mayor — for the board to resign.

"Parents were tuned in to learn if we will be sending our kids back to school soon and if not, why," Rebecca Mackowiak stated on the petition calling for the resignations. "There has been a lack of communication from the board and this was the first communication we heard."

Brizendine resigned first on Thursday, followed by the rest of the board the next day.

“We deeply regret the earlier comments that were made in the meeting of the Board of Education earlier this week,” a joint statement by ex-board members Beede, Erica Ippolito and Masadas stated. “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.”

The same week as the hot mic incident in Contra Costa County, a tenured instructor at Oxnard College was placed on administrative leave after video of a confrontation with a hard-of-hearing student in a class Zoom meeting went viral.

The instructor appeared to grow angry with the student for not answering him. The student explained that she was hard of hearing.

"She's not paying attention, she's not trying," the instructor said, when another student tried to defend her.

The Ventura County Community College District said in a statement that it was "deeply troubled by the behavior."

"[The district] is opposed to any language or behavior which is offensive or harmful to anyone based on gender, ethnicity, religion, sex orientation, age or disability,” Board Chair Joshua Chancer said in the statement. “Comments in the video do not reflect the District’s values of integrity and honesty in action and word, respect and the constant pursuit of excellence.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.