On Oct. 22, 2021, the day after the Oct. 21 School Board meeting, Coronado Unified School District (CUSD) Superintendent Mueller issued an updated CUSD Newsletter. I was heartened by the quote of President Kennedy chosen by Mr Mueller, at the top of the Newsletter. I hope this sentiment guides Superintendent Mueller, President Pontes and the CUSD trustees in considering and preparing Agenda item #6 regarding Civility as well as any future board actions.

“So let us begin anew - Remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.”

-John F. Kennedy

I emphasize, “sincerity is always subject to proof.”

I have never attended law school, have never been a California State judge. However, I am aware of the definition of slander. When my vehicle was vandalized, I had no proof who did it. I had a sincere belief, a suspicion, but no proof. Verification must be the bottom line for making an accusation or intimation. I also agree, “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it.” My sincere belief could have been false; so I never risked slandering anyone.

When Trustee and attorney Whitney Antrim asserted she believed she knew who left tortillas on her family vehicles, she offered no proof. Ms Antrim indicated that she knew who had made harmful threats against her, without verification. However, she did pointedly direct her eyes toward particular meeting attendees. Later Ms. Antrim horrifically intimated, “We the Parents Coronado” were affiliated with Neo-Nazis. I hope Ms Antrim reads and takes to heart the JFK quote, “civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.” I sincerely believe Ms Antrim and her family had experienced frightening communications. However, she offered no proof as to the perpetrator, only uncivil, unsubstantiated accusations designed to bring disrepute towards those who have disagreed with her points of view. I sincerely hope her family is never again bothered or frightened. It might also be best if Ms Antrim and all parents did not post photos of their minor children on public, politically affiliated social media sites. I had spoken out against these postings years ago; nothing personally directed only to our CUSD trustees.

Most of those attending CUSD meetings and communicating via Zoom or email have children or grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Trustees, superintendents and board presidents, as well as meeting attendees need to be sensitive to how their words can harm all children, not just their own. We must be cognoscente, especially with our knowledge of how much bullying goes on in schools, playgrounds, internet, of how damaging, false, angry accusations and words affect all children, especially the youngest.

While discussing the censure of Trustee Stacy Keszei President Lee Pontes stated, he “believed” Trustee Keszei’s husband listened in to their phone calls. Does he have proof? Beliefs are not proof. Was this statement designed to bring doubt to the veracity of Ms Keszei and her husband? Perhaps that was not Mr Ponte’s intent, but shouldn’t he know better? Such beliefs and feelings by all Board members are better stated in their private deliberations. Beliefs are not proof that a Board member should be censured. That is my personal opinion.

When Trustee Esther Valdez-Clayton questioned Trustee Keszei it appeared to me and others she was attempting to put words into Ms Keszei’s mouth; attempting to get Stacy to incriminate herself. Nothing would do but to have Stacy repeat Esther’s words as Esther kept insisting. Two experienced attorney’s on the Board were not satisfied that a Coronado community resident, an attorney, would offer his services to Ms Keszei pro-bono. It was obvious attorneys Whitney Antrim and Esther Valdez-Clayton were using their own legal expertise in testifying against non-attorney Trustee Stacy Keszei. Technically legal, I believe, but was that legal tag-team effort fair?

With great sincerity, angry, passionate words have been spoken. Haven’t we all trespassed? It does no harm to admit using excessive, overblown language when describing those who passionately disagree with us, as terrorists. Vow to do better, show our better selves is a goal to which we can all aspire. Apologizing for a frustrated lapse in language is setting a good example for youth.

My nagging frustration is, for three months I’ve been trying to get an answer to one simple question. After learning about the No Place for Hate program, and in what activities Coronado school students were participating, I thoroughly read the official ADL NPfH Handbook. One NPfH Handbook paragraph shocks me still. Under Activity Planning Recommendations, Let’s Get It Right: USING CORRECT PRONOUNS AND NOUNS, pages 24 & 25. Paragraph 8.

“You should ask whether it’s okay to use their name and pronoun in communication home to parents/family members and in parent-teacher conferences. Keep in mind that some students may not disclose this information to some or all family members.”

Really? How is it appropriate to task and trust teachers with keeping such information secret from parents? Who on the CUSD Board agrees that this is a sound idea. What is the opinion of Coronado Safe Harbor? I still pray for an answer.


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