While ‘General Business’ must still be addressed it is the ‘Public Comment’ portion of the current Oakdale Joint Unified School District board meetings which seem to hold the most content. The most recent meeting hosted on Monday, Oct. 11 proved to be no different as the Tech Center was at maximum capacity, with an audience overflowing into the courtyard.
Before the meeting began, board member Tina Shatswell addressed the audience outlining how the meeting would be run as all as referencing the September meeting’s chaotic nature.
“We are not going to have a bunch of yelling, screaming, back and forth tonight,” Shatswell said. “We will not tolerate the screaming and yelling.”
She went on to state that while the mask mandate would not be enforced during the night’s meeting, respect and order would be. Audience members who were uncooperative of the guidelines would be directed to leave.
Four of the seven audience members listed to speak during public comment brought forth concern on the recent mandate by California Governor Gavin Newsom for COVID vaccinations in school aged children grades K-12.
Melissa Goodman – addressed by the board as Ms. Maycroft – engaged with Board President Barbara Shook in regards to previous comment regarding the board voting as a board not as individuals.
“We are not allowed to discuss any of these items individually,” Shook stated of meeting items. “That’s called the Brown Act and the Brown Act doesn’t allow us to do that. It’s very frustrating at times.”
Shook further reviewed details of the Brown Act with Maycroft in regard to board members not being able to discuss meeting topics prior to meetings.
Maycroft also encouraged the board members to do their homework in regards to the vaccine and its effects on children.
“There have been a total of 1900 adverse reactions in California alone and that is what’s voluntary reported,” she shared of her findings, among many others.
Maycroft also made mention of the board being complacent by way of acting on behalf of the students.
Board member Diane Gilbert addressed the statement of the board being complacent, defending the board in regards to their opposition to children getting vaccinated.
“But what have you done to stop it?” Maycroft asked in regards to the vaccine mandate.
“I am not saying our hands are tied,” Gilbert stated. “Listen, this board is fighting for these kids. We’ve been very clear, I believe in our feelings about putting shots in our children arms. No matter where you are on this, a lot of people have concern about it. That is a whole different animal.”
District Superintendent Dave Kline encouraged Maycroft to submit a request for the vaccine mandate to be placed on the agenda for the next meeting.
In closing Maycroft noted a trip to Sacramento on Oct. 18 to protest and invited, as well as encouraged the board members to join.
“We would like you to join us. Stand with us,” she said. “We don’t want to fight against you; we want to fight with you.”
Parent Gina Boysen addressed the board noting that mandates are not laws and challenged them to think back to Rosa Parks and the lessons taught to our children.
“She said no! What would have happened if she just complied?” Boysen questioned.
“It started with two weeks to flatten the curve. Then schools were shut down and our kids had to do distance learning,” she continued on with the timeline for reference. “We are not anti-vac or anti-mask. If you would like to wear a mask, that’s absolutely fine. We believe in choice. We’re in this predicament because we’ve complied thus far. Tonight we are saying, no more. We all have freedom of choice. This is America, what side of history will you be on.”
The overall impact on mental health to the students was also addressed, as longtime community member and parent April Villalpando-Miner approached the podium.
The parent of OHS students noted the 2020 suicide rate increased by 20 percent in young people, as well as how it has directly affected her children.
In closing the public comment portion, board member Shatswell acknowledged appreciation for the people for speaking up on behalf of the students and the district.
Extensive conversation continued in regard to the mask mandate as an agenda item had been added as result of the September meeting.
The next meeting will be hosted on Monday, Nov. 8. The public portion of the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the OJUSD Tech Center.