Conservative group bombards San Jose school board meeting
Franklin-McKinley School District Board President Rudy Rodriguez (let) wasn't surprised protestors from Informed Parents of Silicon Valley attended the Sept. 26, 2023 meeting in force. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    Supporters of a censured Franklin-McKinley School District trustee showed up in force at a recent board meeting, but some say they are outsiders pushing an agenda.

    Informed Parents of Silicon Valley members spoke out at Tuesday night’s school board meeting, following Trustee Marc Cooper’s colleagues asking him to denounce the organization and resign earlier this month. The board said Cooper misrepresented its curriculum and violated bylaws, as well as the state education code. Cooper threatened to sue the board for defamation.

    Cooper did not respond to a request for comment.

    Supporters of Trustee Marc Cooper held up signs during the meeting. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    Board President Rudy Rodriguez told San José Spotlight the meeting went as expected based on the track record of those speaking for organizations like Informed Parents of Silicon Valley (IPSV) and Values Advocacy Council. These groups believe that parents not schools are responsible for sex education. They do not believe in critical race theory and want parents to have say over their children’s reading materials.

    “I expected there to be a large group from outside of our school district,” he said.

    A bookmark distributed by IPSV members before the meeting says, “Our schools have fallen prey to a dangerous agenda pushed by educators seeking to indoctrinate our children… at the expense of your family’s values and beliefs!”

    Informed Parents of Silicon Valley distributed bookmarks before the Franklin-McKinley School District board meeting on Sept. 26, 2023. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    Scott Shulimson, president of Franklin McKinley Educators Association, said Values Advocacy Council sent an email to rally supporters by saying Trustee Rodriguez wants students to see pornography without their parents’ consent. You’re being lied to, and you are being manipulated, Shulimson told attendees.

    District parent Rosa Cortez said the speakers used hate tactics meant to scare people.

    “My thoughts are of sadness,” she told San José Spotlight, “because these outside groups are coming into our district and basically turning our board meetings into a three-ring circus.”

    She said the comments made are irrelevant to helping students succeed.

    “You can’t tout terrible test scores and then try to ban books,” Cortez said. “If I could tell IPSV one thing it would be, ‘Stay out of our schools. You don’t have kids here.’ Many of us parents are heartbroken that this is what our children are being used for.”

    Margaret Wysocki, president of United Teachers of Santa Clara, said outside organizations are attacking public education.

    “Do not be fooled by their rhetoric,” she said. “Stand up for your families. Stand up for your students. Stand up for public education, where we educate the whole child.”

    But others like Terese Mansfield defended Cooper, emphasizing his focus on parental rights and helping families understand what was being taught in the classroom. Mansfield questioned the integrity of the trustees.

    “Are you on the board because you want to put a rift between parents and their children?” she said. “That’s what you’re doing by censuring Marc. You are dividing parents from their children. He was duly elected by parents who want to know … things against their values, things they think are harming their children.”

    Parent Jose Gonzales said Cooper is there for the community. He said the board is maligning IPSV, the only group telling parents they have a choice. Carl Kalauokalani, chapter chair of Moms for Liberty Santa Clara County, spoke at the meeting and said many state school boards are actively working against parents. He said his organization works to get pornographic books out of school libraries and keep Santa Clara County school boards accountable.

    On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law prohibiting school boards from banning books, instructional materials or curricula categorized as inclusive or diverse.

    “Our school district encourages diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging,” Rodriguez said. “We’re going to respond accordingly to anybody or any organizations that intend to counter our initiatives, and also through their own efforts, violate the laws of the state of California and the Department of Education. We’re going to respond quickly and deliberately.”

    Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected].

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