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California bill would allow local school boards to remove dissenting members

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(The Center Square) – A newly proposed measure facing the California Senate would bar school boards from adopting any policy that “contradicts any existing law requiring a school district to have inclusive policies, practices, and curriculum” and would allow for the removal of a school board member who either helps adopt such policies or who “prevents the governing board from conducting its business.”

Under the measure, the governing board of a school district could censure or remove a member found to have violated one of these two rules by a two-thirds vote of the board in which the individual who is subject to the vote would not be allowed to vote in.

Adapted by Assemblymember Mia Bonta, D-Oakland, from an existing bill, the wholly rewritten legislation would face new votes in both the Senate and Assembly.

Bonta is married to California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who initiated a civil rights inquiry in June against a Temecula Valley school board that voted against but – under pressure from state officials threatening legislative, financial, and regulatory consequences – ultimately adopted a new, state-approved curriculum for 1st through 5th graders. The measure was challenged for its inclusion of a lesson on LGBTQ history in California. The attorney general also sent a letter warning a Chino Valley school district of potential legal violations for adopting a new policy requiring parents to be notified if their child is involved in violence, talks about committing suicide, or starts using a different bathroom, name, or gender identity than what is listed on official birth records.

Assemblymember Bonta’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Assemblymember Bill Essayli, R–Woodcrest, who wrote AB 1314, the bill on which the Chino Valley policy was modeled and is hoping to replicate the Chino Valley policy across the state, said, “The board already cannot violate existing laws. This is an intimidation tactic to prevent board members from taking positions the opposition might attack as discriminatory.”

Essayli, a former federal prosecutor, also noted the state Constitution already has a process for removing elected officials – the recall – and that the legislature cannot override the state constitution.

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