California school board resigns after negative comments about parents caught on hot mic

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OAKLEY, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — Members of a San Francisco Bay Area school board have resigned from their positions after being caught making negative comments about parents during a virtual meeting.

The incident happened during Wednesday’s virtual meeting of the Oakley Union Elementary School Board, NewsNation affiliate KRON reported. Before the meeting officially began and unaware the public could see and hear them, board members used profanity and made jokes about parents just wanting a babysitter or to smoke pot in their home.

The incident sparked outrage among parents, garnering national attention. An online petition circulated calling on the board members to resign.

As of late Friday, Oakley School Board Members Kim Beede, Erica Ippolito, Richie Masadas, and Lisa Brizendine all submitted resignations, according to the Oakley Union Elementary School District Superintendent Greg Hetrick.

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

Beede, Ippolito and Masadas join board President Lisa Brizendine, who announced her resignation Thursday. Brizendine was captured on video saying, “They want their babysitters back.”

READ THE FORMER BOARD MEMBER’S FULL STATEMENT

“We 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.

We love our students, our teachers and our community, and we want to be part of the remedy to help the District move forward, returning its full focus to students’ needs. To help facilitate the healing process, we will be resigning our positions as Trustees of the Oakley Union Elementary School District, effective immediately. The Superintendent will be working with the Contra Costa County Office of Education to address the vacancies on the Board of Education.

This was a difficult decision, but we hear the community’s concerns, and we believe yielding to your request that we step down will allow the District to move forward. Please do not let our failure in judgment cast a shadow on the exceptional work that our teachers, administrators and hard-working employees are doing for the students of this District. They deserve and will need your support as you move forward.”

READ SUPERINTENDENT GREG HETRICK’S FULL STATEMENT

“During the Oakley Union Elementary School District Regular Board Meeting, there were unfortunate and truly inappropriate comments made that were heard by many.  These comments are not typical and more importantly, they are not what the community should expect from our school district. 

We all take pride in the Vision of the Oakley Union Elementary School District in that we are “A diverse learning community committed to educating and empowering today’s learners and tomorrow’s leaders in a safe and inclusive environment.”  The comments made were not in alignment with our Vision and are definitely not what any of us stand for as leaders. 

I know that we lost trust with the community.   I will not make excuses for what happened or why it happened.  I am the superintendent.  I am responsible and accountable and I am truly sorry for what took place.  I have been and continue to be committed to working together for the betterment of the Oakley Union Elementary School District students, staff and entire school community. 

I know that our students deserve better from us.  I pledge to work collaboratively with stakeholders and community members to begin doing the important work that is needed to rebuild community trust in our district.”

OAKLEY UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT GREG HETRICK

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate KRON contributed to this report.

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