CA School Board Trustee Calls Return to In-Person Learning ‘White Supremacist Ideology,’ ‘Slavery’

A photo of Chardá Bell-Fontenot from her Linkedin. Controversy arose after she called a return to in-person learning "slavery."
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Parents in the La Mesa-Spring Valley, California, school district are calling for the resignation of a school board trustee who referred to plans to return to in-person learning as “white supremacist ideology.”

Reopen California Schools tweeted about trustee and board Vice President Chardá Bell-Fontenot (pictured), who said during Tuesday’s virtual board meeting that plans on how and when to bring children back into the classroom for in-person learning “seems like a very white supremacist ideology.”

With parents also watching the meeting, Bell-Fontenot, who apparently was not on-camera, was heard saying, “That seems like a very white supremacist ideology, to force people to comply and conform, just letting you know.”

“Privilege, check it you guys,” she was also heard saying to fellow school board members, one of whom is Hispanic.

When other school board members continued to push for discussion about reopening schools, Bell-Fontenot rejected their views.

“I don’t want to be a part of forcing anyone to do anything they don’t want to do,” she was heard saying. “That’s what slavery is, I’m not gonna be a part of it.”

“You keep throwing out the racism but I’m Hispanic… I don’t understand that part either, I’m confused, that’s it,” said the Hispanic member of the school board.

A report at local ABC 10News said parents Mai Teague and Spring Vick, who were among hundreds of parents watching the meeting, “were shocked at the words being used.”

Bell-Fontenot had a “very condescending tone, just talking down to everyone and resisting what anyone had to say,” Teague said. “All these terms referring to going back to school I don’t see the relevancy at all in it.”

“Someone who has her own personal agenda is not looking out for the best interest of the community and she should not represent the schools at all,” Teague added.

Vick said Bell-Fontenot “should have been a little more professional.”

Both Teague and Vick want their children to be able to return to school.

When parents called for Bell-Fontenot’s resignation, La Mesa-Spring Valley Superintendent David Feliciano released a statement on behalf of the board that read, in part:

While we were also disappointed and offended by trustee Fontenot’s behavior, we were saddened to learn that she has received hateful, racist, and threatening communications as a result. We strongly condemn behavior that is racist, discriminatory or threatens violence of any kind.

However, ABC 10News said it is “unclear” who sent the “communications” referred to by Feliciano.

“Those ABC 10News spoke with say they simply want Bell-Fontenot to resign, and have started a Change.org petition,” the report stated.

The petition states:

Ms. Bell-Fontenot continued by asking that the board not even vote on such matter and as the other members of the board were ill prepared and had no idea what was going on. Bell-Fontenot sternly stated “We don’t have to give anybody any date…we do not have to make a decision today.” Fellow board members shared district survey results which proved to show 70-80% of district parents were in favor of reopening schools. Ms. Bell-Fontenot seemed clueless as to whether or not these were pertinent by saying “Who are the 70-80 percent and where are they? Which school sites? Which language group?”

“Charda Bell-Fontenot is unprofessional and does not represent our kids or community in the light in which either deserve,” the petition adds. “Our kids deserve better. I urge you to sign this petition for her immediate resignation.”

At the time of publication, the petition had over 2,700 signatures.

The La Mesa-Spring Valley board meeting was made public just one week following the resignation of the entire school board of the Oakley Union Elementary School District, also in California, after its members were heard during a virtual board meeting mocking parents in the district who were calling for a return to in-person learning.

The board members were apparently unaware parents were watching the virtual meeting.

The Oakley video shows trustee Kim Beede describing her reaction to one parent, “Bitch, if you’re going to call me out, I’m going to f**k you up!”

Another board member, Lisa Brizendine, was heard saying parents “don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. It’s really unfortunate they want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back.”

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