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Temecula Valley school board bends to state after Newsom threatens $1.5 million fine

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(The Center Square) – The Temecula Valley school board, threatened by Governor Newsom with legislative, financial, and legal consequences, reached a compromise during an emergency meeting to adopt a new, state-approved social studies curriculum for 1st through 5th graders it had previously rejected.

Because most of the contention revolved around a fourth-grade lesson on gay rights, the compromise was the lesson would be pulled for review and a possible rewrite, a move that will likely be taken under consideration in the school district’s ongoing civil rights inquiry by the California Department of Justice.

After months of debate, the school board twice rejected adopting a new curriculum for 1st through 5th graders prepared by Teachers Curriculum Institute, one of four approved by the state and compliant with the FAIR Act, a 2011 law requiring California schools to include the history of underrepresented racial, ethnic, and cultural populations in K-12 materials. The school board’s majority claimed that while they did not want to exclude LGBTQ history from all of K-12, including LGBTQ history in 1st through 5th-grade social studies classes as the TCI materials do would require having to explain sex and gender at an “inappropriate” age.

Last week, after yet another vote by the school board to reject the TCI curriculum, Governor Newsom announced plans to fine Temecula Valley Unified $1.5 million and ship the rejected textbooks to the school district so students would have access to the new learning materials by the start of the school year.

In response, Board President Joseph Komrosky acknowledged the risk of potential consequences as a major driving factor behind the 4-0 vote at the following emergency meeting, a sharp contrast to the previous 3-2 votes to reject the curriculum in May and earlier last week.

“We have a fiscal responsibility so that I cannot steer this district into more legalities,” Komrosky said.

Under the unanimous compromise agreement, the school board adopted the TCI materials while pulling a fourth-grade lesson on LGBTQ history for review and possible revision. With an ongoing civil rights inquiry into the school district, state leaders may believe this may be too little, too late.

“This has never been about parents’ rights. It’s not even about Harvey Milk – who appears nowhere in the textbook students receive. This is about extremists’ desire to control information and censor the materials used to teach our children,” said Newsom in a written statement. “Hate doesn’t belong in our classrooms and because of the board majority’s antics, Temecula has a civil rights investigation to answer for.”

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