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Thousand Oaks

CVUSD School Board Locks Doors to Public

Locked doors confronted parents at the August 31 Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) board meeting. Thirty or so Conejo Valley residents gath­ered outside with signs and public com­ments prepared, only to realize their voices wouldn’t be heard. A notice was taped to the doors which read:

“In alignment with the City of Thou­sand Oaks and in alignment with Execu­tive Order N-08-21, the Board of Educa­tion will be virtually hosting today’s Board meeting, with Public Comments available via telephone only, and public viewing available on television and via internet live stream through the CVUSD website.”

By contrast, the meeting’s agenda posted several days be­fore advertised that “due to the current COVID-19 concerns, the District will permit members of the public to address the Board via telephone or in person.”

With this in mind, dozens showed up only to be unceremo­niously barred by their school board members, who made no at­tempt to correct their ambiguous communications to the crowd.

“They don’t want to listen to anybody. And they’re making ex­cuses because it says online that they’re supposed to be open,” a fa­ther of two CVUSD students told the Conejo Guardian. The board apparently neglected to eliminate the phrase “in person,” creating a frustrating scene for the crowd of mothers and fathers waiting to be heard.

Many were there to speak out against mask mandates and ex­perimental COVID “vaccines” in public schools.

“We have to realize how se­rious this is. Because if you keep caving, just saying, ‘Oh, I’ll accept this little tyranny and inconve­nience, and then I’ll accept the next level tyranny,’ you’re going to lose it all,” said Thousand Oaks resident, Jeff Schwartz.

Meanwhile, the board unan­imously approved its resolutions without a single comment from those eagerly waiting outside. Board member Karen Sylvester felt it was important to inform the public that the board is “trying to create two new advisory councils to further increase stakeholder and parent involvement. The first is called APAC which stands for ‘African-American Parent Advi­sory Council.’ And the second is an LGBTQ+ advisory council.” Informational webinars were hosted that week to answer ques­tions about these councils, but no action was taken during the board meeting.

Rocky Capobianco, appoint­ed by the board to the vacancy left by former member Jenny Fitzger­ald, addressed parents’ growing concerns with the “Teen Talk” sexual education curriculum.

“I ask that our review com­mittee take parent and communi­ty values into consideration when reviewing Teen Talk as a frame­work,” he advised.

Catherine Xu, the student board trustee, reported on free meal programs and said that stu­dents were asked in many classes to state “their ‘pronouns’ in their introductions in the beginning of the year” — a fact that has dis­turbed and angered many par­ents.
Board president Bill Gorback very briefly mentioned the man­datory 10-day quarantine of stu­dents who are exposed to COVID and the apparent lack of instruc­tional support and in-person learning these students receive.

Motion after motion was passed which the obligatory ques­tion, “Any public comments?” posed to a non-existent audience.
One of these resolutions, Board Policy 3452, made certain board members uncomfortable. Before it could be voted on, board member Lauren Gill expressed her concern over a passage that discussed “providing equitable opportunities for males and fe­males” in equipment for athletics.

“There’s no need to have this binary language,” she complained, referring to the acknowledgment that humanity is divided into two genders, a fact Gill rejects. But the board quickly voted to amend the language from “males and fe­males” to “all students,” in agree­ment with Gill.

The board also voted to re­new several contracts, includ­ing one with the Committee for Children, an organization that teaches a “social-emotional learn­ing” approach to bullying. The organization provides educators with resources that emphasize “recognizing, condemning, dis­rupting, and seeking to rectify systemic injustices that create barriers to each child’s success.” The board letter of support and intent states that they “believe that social-emotional learning is fundamental to achieving social justice.”

A break was called midway through, when pressure from the gathered families grew too great for certain board members. The board called the police with hopes that their meeting might proceed uninterrupted by the “noise disruption taking place outside.” However, the respond­ing officers were sympathetic to the people’s civil right to protest and encouraged them to continue doing so respectfully. The moth­ers and fathers remained outside until the session ended.

At the conclusion of the meeting, CVUSD board mem­bers promptly took the back exit to their personal vehicles, but not without drawing the attention of the crowd. Parents tried to pose their comments and questions to the superintendent and trust­ees as these mask-wearing public servants scuttled to their cars and disappeared.

The Conejo Guardian via email and telephone requested an interview with Superintendent Mark Mc­Laughlin, but received no response.

Two weeks later the school board met again, this time with a clearer un­derstanding that in-person comments would not be received. One local resi­dent voiced concerns about the board’s contract with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization whose goal is to “prioritize preventing and countering domestic terrorism, re­source according to the threat, oppose extremists in government service, take domestic terrorism prevention mea­sures, end the complicity of social me­dia in facilitating extremism, create an independent clearinghouse for online extremist content, and target foreign white supremacist terrorist groups.”

Republicans and conservatives are increasingly labeled as “domestic terror­ists” by progressives, and the ADL’s stat­ed agenda to have people with non-pro­gressive views banned from social media and public society alarmed some. ADL’s contract with the CVUSD would allow the district to host educational seminars for parents to learn more about “diversi­ty, equity, and inclusion,” language often used for Critical Race Theory.

Allison, a Thousand Oaks resident, called to clarify why the board felt the need to partner with this organization, spend tax dollars, and teach these values, when already “there has been a steady decrease in enrollment for the past few years. I believe this agenda item,” she rea­soned, “may be a tipping point for more parents to withdraw their children and look into homeschooling options.”

However, the contract passed with a 5-0 vote.


  1. As long as there are five liberal Democrats on the Conejo Valley Unfied School District board/trustees, parents with conservative or Republican views on education will be ignored. Conservatives and Republicans need to run and be elected to the CVUSD board/trustees.


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