On Oct. 5, protesters showed up at the homes of Lucia Mar Unified School District's board members for the third virtual meeting in a row.
It first happened on Sept. 7, as the school board conducted its bi-monthly meeting. Protesters showed up at board Vice President Colleen Martin's house, who said that one protester pepper sprayed a neighbor who came to her defense.
During the next meeting on Sept. 21, three board members had protesters at the bottom of their driveways: Martin, along with board President Don Stewart and board member Dee Santos. And on Oct. 5, protesters were back at Martin's and Stewart's houses.
- Photo Courtesy Of Colleen Martin
- MAKING NOISE A small group of protesters got loud outside Lucia Mar Board Vice President Colleen Martin's house on Oct. 5. It's the third board meeting in a row where protesters have shown up at her home, she said.
The board members targeted by protests over the past month are the same three who Central Coast Families for Education Reform is attempting to recall. The group of vocal Lucia Mar parents is collecting signatures right now, and they need to reach more than 8,000 by Nov. 5 to get the recall on a ballot.
According to Central Coast Families Vice President Mike Mulder, the small group of protesters—Martin said there were six at her house on Oct. 5—are not affiliated with his group. He said most of the individuals are from North County, where school districts like Paso Robles Unified are having board meetings in person again. They're coming down to protest the Lucia Mar meetings still being virtual, Mulder said.
"We have talked to the folks in those groups and we've asked them to stop," Mulder said. "We understand that there's this level of frustration out there."
Martin and Stewart don't agree with Mulder's assertion that the protesters are unaffiliated with Central Coast Families.
"The first night they protested they had their Central Coast Families sign," Martin said. "The guy who sprayed the pepper spray, we know lives in Grover, because we know he's a parent in our schools. ... They would not be here if it wasn't for the rallies that Central Coast Families for Education Reform organized."
Stewart added, "I'm sure they want to distance themselves, but you can't rile these people up and then step back and say we had nothing to with it."
Mulder said Central Coast Families is focused on its recall effort, which is seeking to remove the three board members from office because of their COVID-19 response.
"Our district basically closed schools and would not reopen them," he said. "When things are conducted via Zoom, we see that the public is not best served in that format. We've actually filed Brown Act violations with the board, following the complaint process, that are currently pending."
Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association, the union representing teachers in the district, does not support the recall effort. Union President Cody King called it counterproductive.
"Having virtual board meetings is done for safety, and it doesn't have an impact on our students and their learning," King said. "Teachers always want to focus on what has the biggest impact for students in our classrooms."
King added that the union often disagrees with board members on other issues, but doesn't see a recall as the way to get things done.
"We're always trying to field candidates to run against board members, because competitive elections make them more accountable," King said. "The recall group often paints us as cheerleaders for the board, but we work with them to do better." Δ