On Wednesday, the Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees voted to censure Trustee Ellie Householder in a 3-2 vote for not holding herself to the “highest standards of ethical conduct” while not following Board bylaws.
According to the resolution:
“the conduct of demonstrators whose stated goal (and actions thereafter) were designed to deliberately prevent the Antioch Unified School District Board from conducting its lawful business at a public meeting (which is a violation of Penal Code section 403). Householder went on to tweet that “For the last week I’ve heard students chant ‘we will vote you out’ and ‘f*** Mary, Gary, and Diane” and further stated “She is SHOOK YA’LL!! Just a happy reminder your voice has impact to never stop fighting!” To publicly voice approval and support of speech that denigrates her fellow Trustees violates the Board Policies cited above and exceed the bounds of common decency and professionalism that should be a part of all board members’ speech and conduct.”
This censure comes after Householder participated in the intimidation of Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts where protesters showed up at Motts house and urged her to vote against School Resource Officers. Protesters blocked her street and used intimidation tactics on Motts. This protest was captured on video by Antioch City Council Candidate in District 2, Nichole Gardner who also participated in the protest. Householder also sent out a series of tweets on Twitter.
On Wednesday, prior to reading public comments, Householder requested Ms. Cavallaro to read the comments citing she would be “neutral.
Board President Diane Gibson-Gray stated Superintendent Stephanie Anello was going to read them. At that point, Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White chimed in citing “conflict of interest” because she’s the secretary. Gibson-Gray stated she believed there was no conflict of interest with public comments being read noting she had asthma (due to the ash and smoke in the air).
“Just for clarification the reason I wanted somebody more neutral is just given some of the comments on social media from those close to the superintendent,” stated Householder. “Given that this is really sensitive that’s why I wanted to request someone more neutral read the comments. Even you.”
Gibson-Gray stated the Superintendent already had the public comments and that Householder did not make the request ahead of the meeting.
Superintendent Anello stated there were approximately 100 comments both in support and against the censure.
Trustee Rocha made an immediate motion to censure Householder. That sparked a response Sawyer-White citing they had not yet had a discussion while interrupting Rocha.
Raising her voice, Rocha replied they “make the motion, have a second, and have a discussion” saying they can have a discussion once it is put on the table. The motion then was second by Gibson-Gray.
Sawyer-White explained her position against the censure.
“I find a censure is a distraction for the board,” Sawyer-White said. “Trustee Householder’s tweet was taken out of context and the quotes were comments of students. Students should have a voice… students are frustrated by not having the opportunity to have a voice. I am not in favor of having this censorship. I am disheartened and in agreement to the public comments by the comments to why haven’t new trustees aren’t mentored or any guidance when they were elected. There is vast experience on this board and nobody has reached out to mentor new trustees.”
Trustee Gary Hack cited he the issue was stated well in the staff report and he had no issue with it calling the censure “appropriate”.
Sawyer-White called this a “personal viewpoint, a part of the First Amendment right and its infringing on her First Amendment right.”
Householder issued a statement prior to the vote.
“I am truly disappointed in my colleagues for putting forward this resolution because we had an ideological disagreement about racial injustices in our district and how to address them, you have retaliated against me by claiming a technical violation. I would have welcomed a discussion about a way we could mediate this issue as a Board, such as workshops or trainings. Instead, my colleagues decided to take punitive action against me. And for that, I really am disappointed.
I’d like to make this crystal clear; the issue here is that I am bringing up racial injustices. That is what they don’t like. And that is what this resolution is about.
The reality is what is happening here is a part of a national awakening to issues of race and racism in our public institutions. For example, it is no secret that AUSD suspends Black boys at a rate seven times higher than their white counterparts. It’s no secret that our higher-level management lacks the same diversity that our larger population has. And it’s no secret that across the board our students of color perform worse academically.
The students of this district understand these facts. And they understand how our district perpetuates inequalities. That is why I will continue to stand in support of their efforts to change our community for the better.
While my colleagues are focused on silencing me, I am going to continue focusing on uplifting voices. I am going to continue talking about issues of race and inequity in our district, and I am going to continue fighting for the rights of our students to advocate for themselves and against injustices. Because we need to talk about these things if we are going to do the jobs the community trusted in us, and that is to educate our students.
Again, I really am disappointed that this is what we have come to. Ideological differences shouldn’t be met with punitive action.”
Gibson-Gray then called for a roll call vote which passed the resolution in a 3-2 vote with Householder and Sawyer-White dissenting.
Gibson-Gray then asked Householder if she would unblock her from Twitter, but called it a her choice.
Householder is also running for City Clerk against Arne Simonsen.
Here is a copy of the Resolution.
RESOLUTION OF THE GOVERNING BOARD OF THE ANTIOCH UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT REGARDING CENSURE OF TRUSTEE ELLIE HOUSEHOLDER
Resolution No. 20-21-07
WHEREAS, Board Bylaw 9005, “Governance Standards” states that “To maximize Board effectiveness and public confidence in district governance, Board members are expected to govern responsibly and hold themselves to the highest standards of ethical conduct;” and
WHEREAS, Board Bylaw 9005 further states that “Each individual Board member shall… Recognize and respect differences of perspective and style on the Board and among staff, students, parents and the community;” and
WHEREAS, Board Bylaw 9005 further states that, “Each individual Board member shall… Act with dignity, and understand the implications of demeanor and behavior;” and
WHEREAS, Board Bylaw 9005 further states that, “Board members also shall assume collective responsibility for building unity and creating a positive organizational culture” and “Govern in a dignified and professional manner, treating everyone with civility and respect;” and,
WHEREAS, Board Bylaw 9010, “Public Statements” states that “… the Board encourages members who participate on social networking sites, blogs, or other discussion or informational sites to conduct themselves in a respectful, courteous, and professional manner and to model good behavior for district students and the community” and
WHEREAS, Board Bylaw 9012 “Board Member Electronic Communications” states that “Board members shall make every effort to ensure that their electronic communications conform to the same standards and protocols established for other forms of communication” and
WHEREAS, the Governing Board of the Antioch Unified School District makes the following factual findings:Trustee Householder, on her Twitter page, which identifies her as an Antioch Unified School District Board Member, tweeted support for the conduct of demonstrators whose stated goal (and actions thereafter) were designed to deliberately prevent the Antioch Unified School District Board from conducting its lawful business at a public meeting (which is a violation of Penal Code section 403). Householder went on to tweet that “For the last week I’ve heard students chant ‘we will vote you out’ and ‘f*** Mary, Gary, and Diane” and further stated “She is SHOOK YA’LL!! Just a happy reminder your voice has impact to never stop fighting!” To publically voice approval and support of speech that denigrates her fellow Trustees violates the Board Policies cited above and exceed the bounds of common decency and professionalism that should be a part of all board members’ speech and conduct.
WHEREAS, the Governing Board determines that Trustee Householder’s conduct is unacceptable, unprofessional, and a violation of the Board Bylaws cited above
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AND ORDERED that the Governing Board of the Antioch Unified School District hereby finds that the foregoing recitals are true and correct.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED AND ORDERED that based on these recitals, the Governing Board of the Antioch Unified School District hereby formally censures Trustee Ellie Householder and proclaims publicly that this Board disapproves of the aforementioned conduct and finds it to be a violation of the Board Bylaws and unacceptable behavior that shall not be tolerated.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED AND ORDERED that Trustee Householder shall treat fellow Board members and District staff with dignity and respect at all times and in all forums. PASSED AND ADOPTED by the following vote of the members of the Governing Board of the Antioch Unified School District of Contra Costa County, State of California, this 9thday of September, 2020.