A board member of a San Diego public school district injected the notions of white supremacy and slavery while arguing against re-opening schools in the area.
The story: Chardá Bell-Fontenot, the Vice President of La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools, made the comments during a virtual meeting with other board members. During the meeting, which took place on Feb. 23, members on the board were trying to set a date for a return to in-person learning.
Bell-Fontenot pushed back against the effort to go back to schools and spoke to her colleagues in a condescending manner.
What she said: When one board member pointed to a poll that around 70-80% of parents wanted their children to return to school for in-person instructions, Bell-Fontenot questioned its veracity.
“Who are the 70 to 80 percent and where are they? Which school site? Which language group?” she asked.
Bell-Fontenot also argued that they don’t have to consider a date to go back to school, accusing her colleagues of “speaking from the heart” and ignoring facts.
“I don’t understand what the rush is today,” she quipped.
Bell-Fontenot then compared pushing teachers to return to in-person classes with “slavery” and “a white supremacy ideology.” She also told other board members to “check” their privilege.
“Without any teachers, we don’t have the ability to teach the students so that’s where we have to start right now,” Bell-Fontenot said.
“We can’t just say kids can go back into the classrooms when there’s no vaccinated teachers there willing to do that, that’s the problem. So how are we forcing people . . . that seems like a very white supremacist ideology to force people to comply with, you know, and conform without thinking about all of their intersecting factors and barriers that exist for all families,” she continued.
“You’re thinking about one type of family when you’re speaking right now. Just letting you know. Privilege, check it you guys.”
Bell-Fontenot even told the board members that were on the call that they don’t “know what they’re talking about.” David Feliciano, the superintendent of the district, called her out over this comment.
She explained that she was not referring to him but the rest of the members, especially those who are new on the board. Feliciano doubled down saying he doesn’t think her statement was true or “fair” to which she said that board members who “have an issue with me” should confront her.
Shortly after, Rebecca McRae, the board president, suggests that the two should discuss the issue in private but, Bell-Fontenot claimed that “Racism doesn’t need to be private.”
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Author: Penka Arsova
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