Utah Democrats considering impeachment of Utah School Board’s Natalie Cline, while lawmakers and educators call for resignation

This is a developing story. Check back on this post for updates as they become available.

UPDATE, 6:04 p.m.: Utah Republicans denounced Natalie Cline this evening in the following statement, penned by Speaker Mike Schultz, Majority Leader Jefferson Moss, Majority Whip Karianne Lisonbee, and Majority Assistant Whip Casey Snider on behalf of the Utah House Majority Caucus:

“We condemn the recent comments made by Utah State School Board member Natalie Cline directed toward one of our female high school student athletes. Elected officials, especially those whose primary responsibility is to support and defend the children of our state, must uphold high moral and ethical standards. Public servants have a far-reaching and impactful voice that should be used to inform and engage with constituents. Making thoughtless and baseless claims to harass a child is unacceptable and inexcusable. We are considering all available options within our constitutional authority moving forward.

“We care about this young victim’s safety and wellbeing and join our community and state in surrounding her and her family with love and support. She deserves nothing less.”

Utah House Majority Caucus, 2.8.24

UPDATE, 5:35 p.m: The president of the NAACP Salt Lake Branch has joined in the calls for the resignation of Natalie Cline, suggesting to lawmakers that they pass a bill “as fast as was done with the DEI (HB261) and Gender Bathroom Bills (HB257) to put laws that are able to rid individuals to the likes of Natalie Cline.”

The president of the Salt Lake Branch, Jeanetta Williams, said she is “appalled at Natalie’s disrespect for others” saying she had “no right to ask about a person’s gender.”

“Our question to Natalie and those who protect her is ‘What are you doing to protect our students from the likes of Natalie Cline?’ It’s time for Natalie Cline to resign,” Williams said.

UPDATE, 4:01 p.m: The Granite School Board of Education called a special meeting for Friday, Feb. 9 at 4:30 p.m. to “discuss a resolution condemning the actions of Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline. This meeting is open to the public and will be live-streamed on the Granite School District website.”

UPDATE, 3:56 p.m.: Utah Senate Democrats announced via press release this afternoon that they could attempt to impeach Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline.

“We are currently working with our legal counsel to pursue appropriate measures, including the initiation of impeachment proceedings against Ms. Cline,” stated the press release. “We will continue to provide updates on our efforts to address this matter.”

Senate Democrats joined House Democrats and Salt Education Association’s executive board in calling for Cline’s resignation.

“We express our utter outrage and condemnation regarding the reprehensible actions of Natalie Cline, a member of the Utah State Board of Education. Ms. Cline’s actions, characterized by the intentional mockery and defamation of a minor student, represent a flagrant violation of the ethical standards, policies, and trust placed in her as a public official. We call for her immediate resignation … We extend our unwavering support to the victim and her family, who have been traumatized by Ms. Cline’s actions.”

UPDATE, 3:09 p.m.: The Salt Lake Education Association’s executive board has also joined a growing group of voices calling for Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline’s resignation.

The board released the following statement this afternoon:

The Salt Lake Education Association, Executive Board is calling for the resignation of USBE Member, Natalie Cline from the Utah State Board of Education for the ethics violations copied below. As educators, we feel that serving on the USBE Board is one of immense responsibility to do no harm, especially to the children of Utah. Natalie Cline has shown over the years that she is undeserving of such privilege, power, and position. While the most recent egregious violation of ethics is centered on Granite School District students, Cline has targeted teachers in our own district, using her platform to defame and dox multiple teachers. As educators, we share the responsibility to protect our students, ALL students. We believe that the students of Utah need protection from individuals that cause harm, including emotional and mental harm via cyberbullying. We call on Ms. Cline’s fellow board members to do what is right, just, and necessary to protect the students of Utah, and formally demand the resignation of Natalie Cline from the Utah State Board of Education.

Salt Lake Education Association Executive Board, 2.8.24

The board specifically cited portions of the USBE’s Ethics Code Articles IV and V, which read as follows:

USBE Article IV Member Ethics:

  1. c) acting in the best interest of the school children of the state, using powers or resources of public office to promote the public interest rather than for personal gain or to pursue private interests.

  2. While Members have the right to freedom of expression, members shall respect the privacy of students, USBE employees, LEA employees, and school level employees, including refraining from direct and indirect identification of such, in a negative light in any public setting, venue, or platform where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

USBE Article V Role of the Board and Members:

  • 4. a) Members who post or comment on social media do so in an ethical and civil manner and provide a disclaimer for any post or interactions that do not represent the official actions or positions of the Board.

ORIGINAL POST: SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Utah lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for Natalie Cline to resign from her position on the Utah State Board of Education after she made a seemingly transphobic post on social media earlier this week.

On Tuesday, Cline found herself at the center of controversy after making a social media post where she shared an advertisement for a Granite School District high school basketball game. In the post, Cline seemed to question whether one of the team members was transgender. The comment section of the post was reportedly flooded with transphobic comments, leading many to worry about the safety of the student.

Cline has since deleted the original post and made a follow-up statement saying she was “deeply apologetic” for the negative attention the post drew.

“We live in strange times when it is normal to pause and wonder if people are what they say they are because of the push to normalize transgenderism in our society,” Cline’s statement read in part. “But that is definitely not the case with this student, and I apologize again that the conversation around the post turned personal, that was never the intention, and again, I removed the post as soon as I realized what had transpired.”

“Embarrassed the State of Utah”: Cox, Henderson denounce Utah School Board’s Cline for social media post

Still, Cline’s original post has drawn ire from Utah lawmakers, many of whom are calling for her to resign from her position as a member of the State Board of Education, effective immediately.

In a statement, the Utah House Democrats said Cline’s accusations have “repeatedly endangered” students and educators.

“Apologies are insufficient. Cline’s repeated misconduct highlights her unsuitability for the role of Utah School Board Member, necessitating her immediate resignation to prevent further harm to our students,” the House minority said. Utah Democrats further called on the Utah Legislature to stop passing laws that single out transgender community members, saying incidents like this may continue otherwise.

Rep. Kera Birkeland (R-Morgan) also called for Cline’s resignation, saying her post was awful and unjustifiable.

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“A child should never be targeted by adults, let alone an elected official,” Birkeland said on Twitter/X. “Utah has a process in place to protect our student-athletes from this type of targeted harassment. If a student is on the court, field or track – no adult, elected official, parent, or athlete should question that student’s eligibility. Treating a child in this way is unacceptable and should never happen.”

Leadership with the Utah State Board of Education condemned Cline’s behavior on Thursday, saying it would be taking “prompt action.” Board Leaders said they do not have the power or authority to unseat an elected official, however, there are actions they can take to reprimand her should the full Board deem it necessary.

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