Oregon Parents Are Fighting To Recall Progressive School Board Members

Parents cite pornographic books and lower academic standards.
TOPSHOT - Children listen to their teacher as they sit in a classroom on the first day of the start of the school year, at the Chaptal elementary school in Paris, on September 2, 2019. - In France some 12.4 million students crossed the doors of elementary schools (6.7 million), secondary school (3.4 million) and high schools (2.3 million) on September 2, 2019. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images)
MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images

Parents in Oregon‘s capital city are fighting to recall multiple school board members whose progressive policies they say are harming students and families.

A group of parents with students in the Salem-Keizer School District filed in late August to recall three school board members over a litany of allegations, including pornographic children’s books in the school library, lower academic standards, and school safety.

The Salem-Keizer district includes the cities of Salem, the state capital, and neighboring Keizer, which sit about an hour’s drive south of Portland. The district is the second-largest in the state with more than 40,000 students.

The parent group formed a political action committee called Salem-Keizer Education First and is targeting board members Ashley Carson-Cottingham, Osvaldo Avila, and Karina Guzmán-Ortiz.

The recall petitions state that board members want to keep pornographic books in the libraries that portray teenagers engaging in oral sex, allow minors to seek HIV treatment without parental knowledge, allow a child to express their new gender identity at school without notifying parents, and put feminine hygiene products in elementary school boys bathrooms.

School safety is also a sticking point for the parents, particularly the elimination of school resource officers amid a rise in disciplinary incidents, and the district’s rules against teachers and the public legally concealed-carrying guns on campus, according to the petitions.

The petitions also stated that board members have allowed “hate speech, intimidation, and race-baiting” by special interest groups at board meetings and some prioritize focusing on systemic racism over academic success.

“Parents feel intimidated and as though they have no participation rights in the education of their student while having forced differing ideologies taught to their children,” one of the petitions states.

Casity Troutt, the mother who filed for the recalls, has two children attending district schools and said there is a lack of transparency around the curriculum, and children are suffering academically.

“The amount of learning loss that has occurred over the past couple  ‘pandemic years’ is astonishing. Our children are not being educated,” Troutt told The Daily Wire.

“We need to stop focusing on social and emotional learning, restorative justice practices, and lowering the standards in the name of ‘equity’ and start educating our children,” she said.

Troutt also cited the “volatile and hostile behavior” of a local activist group called Latinos Unidos Siempre (LUS) towards parents.

Protesters shouted Troutt down as she spoke at one meeting, video footage of one meeting shows. After Troutt spoke, several LUS activists also took the podium.

Troutt and another mom who attended that meeting said LUS activists followed parents to their cars and took pictures of their license plates.

“It was just really scary and just nothing that I’ve ever experienced before,” the mom told KGW News.

Meanwhile, Troutt has received threats to her life on social media, and the district has done little to discourage them, she said.

“Anybody got a home address or a photo of the b****?” one Twitter user tweeted along with a photo of a gun being loaded that was captioned, “Can’t expect God to do all the work.” The tweet was in response to another tweet saying Troutt had made “vile comments” at the last school board meeting.

Troutt emailed the district on Sep. 2 about her safety concerns.

School board member Osvaldo Avila responded to Troutt the next day in an email viewed by The Daily Wire saying that it is “very unfortunate that you’re having to receive these harmful threats from your actions” and there is “no justifiable reason that you should be threatened.”

Avila said he expects the district to have “security measures in place as always,” but carrying firearms is unnecessary.

“There should never be a reason to resort to carrying weapons such as guns to say we need to protect ourselves as we do not live in a war zone. Hope you stay safe, and no harm comes to you or your family,” Avila wrote.

It’s not just parents who are frustrated. Several school board members join them in their concerns.

“We went from a community that valued the unique abilities and challenges of each student to a hyper focused agenda driven environment,” board member Danielle Bethell told The Daily Wire.

School safety incidents are at an “all time high” due to the removal of school resource officers, but academic success is at an “all time low” because of issues including equity grading and the elimination of honors courses, she said. In addition, the Oregon education department focuses on sexuality, gender, and race, Bethell said.

Board member Marty Heyen said she agrees with Bethell and supports “parents doing whatever they need to do legally in support of their children,” she told The Daily Wire.

Board member Satya Chandragiri said he also shares “serious concerns” with parents about learning loss and safety and would like to see the district reach out “intentionally” to the parent group.

None of the three board members targeted in the recall petitions responded to a request for comment.

To get on the ballot, each recall petition needs 16,283 signatures submitted by Nov. 23. Once that threshold is reached, the recalls must be put to a vote within 35 days.

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