A Belligerent Minority Seeks Power by Intimidation
Boards matter—a lot than we are aware. Sadly, we tend to pay them little mind and offer the people who serve on them little encouragement or credit—even as a board is taken over by a group pushing a narrow agenda. Consider the Board of Trustees of North Idaho College, where a far right wing takeover has damaged NIC’s administration and that damage now threatens the college’s accreditation.
As a local part of a national effort, a small group of religious conservatives pushing an anti-mask, anti-vaccine, anti-accurate history, anti-sex education agenda strove during the 2021 election cycle to accomplish a majority takeover of the Central Valley School District Board of Directors (i.e. the “School Board” of CVSD). They succeeded in electing one of their own, Pam Orebaugh, to one of the five Board positions, but failed (at least until 2023) in their attempt to take a second position with a write-in candidate and tried (unsuccessfully) to mount recall elections against the other sitting Directors, Keith Clark, Debbie Long, and Cynthia McMullen. These Directors are people who have donated their time to serve on the Board of this very successful district for 15, 19, and 24 years, respectively. For now, Ms. Orebaugh is claiming distance from the extreme ideologies of those with whom she closely worked in her campaign, but one can expect her tune will change if she becomes part of a majority in 2023.
Ms. Orebaugh nodded along during in a video of a meeting her group heldimmediately after forcing closure of a CVSD Board meeting with their belligerence on August 23, 2021. (For a transcript of the video click here.) Comments (mostly by Ms. Orebaugh’s ally, Rob Linebarger) included:
“We are under attack from globalist, Marxist forces, which include politicians!”
“We are in what’s called the 5th Generation War.”
“This is a direct attack on our morality, our hope, and our faith!”
“The masks, the shots. These are all part of the grand plan. They want to destroy our civilization by destroying the family!”
“No one can serve two masters…you cannot serve both God and money!”
Another angry parent added, “Why are we allowing the tyrant to win? David went up against Goliath with five stones and it took just one!”
Ostensibly, this effort was a protest against mask mandates, but, as you can see from the quotes, video, and the transcript, mask mandate opposition was only one of a litany of right wing cultural grievances of a type spurred on by extremist national Republican operatives including Steve Bannon, Tucker Carlson, and Christopher Rufo.
The far right crowd that propelled Ms. Orebaugh’s campaign has made CVSD School Board meetings so toxic that some parents who are very satisfied with their children’s education are afraid to attend for fear of harassment.
The following letter was read at the Central Valley School District School Board meeting on February 28 by a woman who introduced it, saying, “I am reading this statement for a friend of ours who is also from a minority group (my family and I are practicing Muslim) and who is understandably scared to be here in person. She is intimidated by one of the electeds and her groups and followers [everyone in the room understood this was a reference to Pam Orebaugh and the deceptively named organizations “Washington Citizens for Liberty” and “Citizens for CVSD Transparency”]. Sadly, my friend is one of many voices who are being marginalized.”
To the Board:
I am a special education teacher, business owner, and parent in the Central Valley District. We moved here from Arizona 7 years ago. I must say that having my children in the district has been and still is an amazing experience. Having worked in both states it was refreshing to see a distinct and state put small class sizes, student needs, and educator value first.
Our district has proven its worth, potential, and character over and over again especially in the face of a deadly pandemic. Which is why it is so disappointing and frustrating to see a radicalized, fringe, minority group, targeting, threatening, and trying to manipulate our school board and it’s constituents. Many of us rational, ethical, and logic driven parents are often referred to as “the silent majority”. Well we are silent no longer. We want to encourage the board to continue to follow expert, scientific guidance when it comes to following rules, regulations, and standards set forth by its elected governing powers; OSPI and the Governor. Do not pander to or be manipulated by extremist groups who are funded by outside money and use politically motivated buzz words they don’t understand in the name of civil liberty. As a taxpayer and constituent I implore the board to continue to show strength of character and integrity in the face of those who choose to undermine and defund the public institutions our country was built upon.
We received a well funded mailer over the weekend from a local PAC group Citizens for CVSD Transparency. This messaging is so radical and divisive, and in a time when we are close to seeing an end to our pandemic. We should be modeling the great leaders of our collective history, not trying to break down the long standing foundations they created. Trying to break down or defund our public schools only hurts the children who need free public education.
Many of you do not have your children in public education but as an elected public servant to CVSD taxpayers it is important for you to remember that our schools are a safe haven for children from many different economic and cultural backgrounds. For many it is the only place they may hear a kind word, engage with same age peers, or even be provided with a meal. Those children, our children, are your stakeholders. Not a PAC driven minority group. Continue to fight the good fight for our children and know that you have our support. We are better than this.
It is time to show support—and keep showing support for local school boards. The Central Valley School Board is but one of many such boards harassed by this nationwide religio-political movement. Show up at meetings. Pay attention. Get involved—or we will soon lose the people who have held our schools together for years—and find them replaced by far right ideologues pushing a narrow agenda. Whether or not you live in the Central Valley School District consider attending one of their twice a month meetings (See P.S. below)
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. Next CVSD School Board meeting 3/14 6:30 PM every 2nd and 4th Monday
PLEASE SIGN UP ASAP IF YOU’D LIKE TO SPEAK
SIGN UP LINK https://www.cvsd.org/apps/form/AddressBoard
Address: 2218 N Molter Rd, Liberty Lake, WA
You may like to ask about this Harassment by document, the Paper Terrorism being used to harrass school districts or Public funding for private-schools?
Here are some additional ideas for talking points: CVSD Talking Points
Submit Written Comments to email@example.com Very important to use this email address so comments will be public record.
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