School board must respect students

The school board’s vote to censure board trustee Mike Dunn is a much-needed response to his threats and offensive emails. However, we’ve seen him censured before, in 2007, and it did nothing to inhibit his future mistreatment of constituents. In reality, censuring Dunn is only a formal condemnation from the board, and it does nothing to stop his behavior. Real change comes from keeping community engagement alive and calling them to vote.

In light of recent emails between Dunn and Scott Harris, president of Mustang Marketing, in which Dunn attempted to censor a vocal citizen, this issue of free speech is not only relevant, but incredibly prevalent.

However, Dunn’s disrespectful comments and unprofessional behavior are not limited to adult citizens; they have been directed towards minors, including students on our own newspaper staff.

In 2014, when the Prowler published an article (while the adviser was on the maternity leave) on the culture of teenage sex, Dunn pushed to have the Prowler print a rebuttal written by a non-staff member, insisting it appear as an agenda item at the March 17, 2015 meeting. In an email to a sophomore staff member, he claimed the article was “contributing to the suffering” of AIDS and asked, “Can I trust you?”

Within the following years, our staff did not want to broach controversy. However, we cannot avoid relevant events in fear of backlash. It would be against our journalistic integrity to do so.

In 2017 we decided to cover the FAIR Act, a state mandate that would allow for LGBT representation in social science curriculum. Its implementation reached strong opposition from Dunn and several other community members. In March 2017, a Prowler staff member interviewed Dunn via email on his views about the FAIR Act.

He wrote:

“I will not deny my faith in Jesus Christ to appease the secular humanists who hate my Christian religion. My faith affects every decision I make in my life. Where I spend eternity is far more important to me than being a school board trustee.  If I continue to be persecuted by the secular humanist for my faith……then so be it.  I will not deny my faith in Jesus Christ to appease the secular humanists who hate my Christian religion. The secular humanist like your adviser […] want to use the public schools to promote their secular humanist religion and indoctrinate our children with their propaganda.  Hitler and Gobbels did the same thing to the German people in the 1930’s. Christians and Jews who opposed Hitler’s secular humanist agenda were gassed.”

Dunn complains of cyberbullying. It is ironic, then, that he was comfortable sending this email to a sophomore in high school. From the school board, our journalistic integrity has been unreasonably questioned, our adviser harassed and insulted and our reporters left in a state of fear. A censure has not and will not protect us.

Furthermore, student journalists are not the only minors targeted by Dunn’s remarks. During the FAIR Act controversy, after Dunn claimed that “the community does not want homosexuality, bisexual and transgender taught to 7-year-old children,” an LGBT student emailed him and spoke of the LGBT history and role models that were important to her. He responded, “Pretend for a moment you are a parent. Your 7-year-old comes home and asks, ‘Daddy what is a bisexual?’”

Our student body, regardless of any differing political affiliations or beliefs, should not have to endure disrespect or immaturity from community leaders. Regardless of a stance on the opt-out policy or the FAIR Act, it is imperative that we vote for effective and respectful community leaders. Students who are or will be turning 18– register. Even if you are graduating, the education of future generations is in your hands.

The school board’s vote to censure is a step in the right direction, but we must persevere. We cannot let this momentum cease. As future voters, we have the power to remove Dunn. The board must return to focusing on what truly matters: our students and our education.

5 Comments

  1. Sally Hibbitts

    February 9, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    Right on Prowler Staff! Great editorial. All of you are awesome! 🌈❤️🌈

  2. Kim H.

    February 10, 2018 at 4:39 am

    You students are so brave and eloquent in standing up to Dunn. You make me proud and give me hope! Keep up the great work!

  3. Penny Strowger

    February 10, 2018 at 7:41 am

    Well said! I hope Prowler staff and other CVUSD high school students help us to elect qualified individuals to the three positions up for election on the School Board this year.

  4. Aleta M Smith

    February 10, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    With what is going on in our country today with this current administration, it makes me so hopeful that we have in our community young teens that are standing up to an adult bully!
    Thank you for being passionate enough to take a stand. I am incredibly proud of you. Please continue to be a advocates for what is the “right thing to do”. You have my support. Applause with ovation!

  5. Bill Gorback

    February 28, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    The prowler staff is right saying the Board has to respect students as well as their adult constituency. In reply to the comments of Mr. Dunn, the Board responsibility is a secular position and decisions made as a member should reflect that. What we do want to set an example of teaching our kids is respect for others!

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