Schilling: Public input is the newest form of cancel culture in Lodi School District

The ability to speak directly to a government board such as a school board, is perhaps the purest and most basic form of citizen participation. While school boards do not have to allow public input, they set an important precedent once they do and from this point on the commenting system cannot be operated in a discriminatory or viewpoint-restrictive way. In the Lodi School District, the board is doing everything in their power to do just that.

In the November Policy meeting, the Lodi School District proposed new public input policies that could reduce speaking time from 5 minutes to 3, limit content by not allowing a single community member to speak on the same subject more than once, prohibits donating time to others and would take away the use of visual aids that community members may use to help their visual learners.

These proposals come as no shock to most of the community. In the wake of COVID when other nearby schools were allowing their students to return to in-person school learning, the Lodi School Board voted unanimously to only have virtual options. What makes this significant is that surveys were sent and 74% of parents said they were comfortable sending their kids back to school. Another survey was sent this year about requiring masks on kids as they started the school year. More than 80% of parents said that masks should be optional, yet all but one board member voted to require masks two weeks into the start of the year.

The bottom line is that the district of Lodi is clearly not interested in being transparent or taking the time to listen to legitimate parental concerns. Many community members are fed up with COVID mitigation and the poor handling of politics in the classrooms. As a result, the board is attempting to restrict public input to show that control is more important to them than transparency.

Heather Schilling

Lodi

Simpson: Police called to Lodi School Board meeting

This month the police were called to the Lodi Board of Education meeting. There was no threats of violence, no screaming parents and nothing at all to even raise an eyebrow to. Instead, there were simply parents who disagreed with policy proposals.

A few of the community members that showed up were so passionate that their voices cracked with tears while they courageously spoke up. A group of parents who feels not listened to had an attorney speak about their concerns to the current masking and quarantine policies. While he did discuss potential lawsuits, no physical threat was made.

At one point a school member left to call the police (unknown if it was at a prompting by another member or administration). It was probably a split second decision they now regret. It was undoubtedly fueled by fear. Leadership that evening was led by fear.

I’ve seen stories about ‘harassed school boards’ in the news, but now I know from experience, that this is the more likely scenario. The crowd in attendance was shocked and numbed. We knew from past experience we were not listened to but felt hostile. There is what is actually happening and there is what people react to because they are afraid. This sums up the COVID mitigation strategies the majority of Lodi parents are against.

Monica Simpson

Lodi

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