After a TikTok video showed an Antioch High School student being detained on August 27, 2021, Antioch School Board Trustees claimed they received many complaints from students, parents and the community.
According to a Public Records Request to the Antioch Unified School District, however, it appears that there was no genuine outrage but a request to create conflict directed by Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe. In an email (see below) the assistant to Thorpe is seen asking Householder to begin gathering letters from parents on the incident.
The Aug 27 incident prompted School Board President Ellie Householder to take to social media followed by calling for a Special Meeting on Sept. 2 to discuss “Use of Force” in schools. However, that request did not come without controversy after Householder stated “we know that disciplinary practices have been unfairly applied to Black male students”.
In her initial meeting request, Householder asked the Superintendent to break possible ethics violations, employee rights and student privacy while making AUSD staff involved available for questions, make the contractor available and student arrest data on campus—while also violating Board Policy in the process.
Based on comments made by Board Members during the Sept. 2 meeting regarding complaints they received from the public, a Public Records Request was made requesting complaints submitted as per Board Policy, if a Trustee receives a complaint, they should forward it to the superintendent immediately.
Despite public claims to the contrary, there were no messages to any board members. In the Districts response to the Public Records Request, they reviewed close to 3,000 documents, requested phone, text messages and social media screen shots. In total, they provided two actual emails addressing the incident from Mayor Thorpe and Leslie D May (Contra Costa County Mental Health Commission) while noting they had three phone calls, two from family members of the student involved and a third from an individual who stated she had a child at the school and was upset at the handling of the situation (transcripts not available).
During the Sept. 2 Board Meeting, Trustee Antonio Hernandez stated the following:
“I received a lot of emails and calls and messages on Facebook and Instagram and made myself as available to a lot of the community and they use all the different forms to reach out to me and they were very angry about the incident that has inspired this conversation we are having,” stated Hernandez. “I am a little surprised that Trustee Rocha or Superintendent Anello didn’t receive a single comment about this and I am wondering where the breach could be in communication because I received a lot so I am wondering what led to that.’
However, in the response to the Public Records request, he did not produce a single email, phone log or contact as to the complaints he received. In an email dated Sept. 10 at 8:17 am, he stated the following to District staff.
“I have not received any emails or social media about this incident addressed to me through messages. I was speaking generally during that portion of the meeting about the messaging I’ve seen through public social media groups, posts, and the many in person conversations I’ve had with members of the community etc. I’ll tighten up my language in future meetings for better clarity,” — Antonio.
Board President Ellie Householder stated all her emails were through her AUSD email account and that there are no Instagram or Facebook messages regarding the incident–even though her original Facebook post shows a total of 78-comments and 12-shares, its unknown if anyone actually sent her a Facebook message under her school board account.
School Board President Ellie Householder reached out to Superintendent Stephanie Anello on August 29 at 9:34 am stating:
“I have received a concerning amount of calls in the last 24-hours regarding an incident at Antioch high School. Please let me know when you can talk tomorrow (Monday)”
A response by Superintendent Stephanie Anello on August 30 stated:
“I have not received any calls. Per Board Policy, can you please forward the concerned individuals to me? Also, I can’t discuss the issue with you in any more detail than I can with the public as there is no item before the Board. I would be happy to send you our press statement once composed”
According to Anello, Householder never sent her a phone list or the contacts of those who reached out to her.
Meanwhile, Householder did receive an email from the assistant of Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe in Sequoia Tomahn — who also works under Thorpe as an Interim Executive Assistant and Secretary to the Board of the Los Medanos Community Healthcare District. This email was sent just hours after Anello replied to Householder requesting contacts who have complained.
I wanted to connect with you in regards to a student being mishandled at Antioch High School. Some parents have expressed outrage and the parent reached out to Mayor Thorpe today. I was advised to let you know and see if possibly you can gather some letters from parents?
The meeting will be confirmed soon. I am waiting on a response from the mother.”
It is unclear what meeting Tomahn was referring to or what occurred at this meeting with Thorpe and Householder. No report out was ever provided.
Trustee Clyde Lewis replied stating he received phone calls and in person conversations but did not receive text or emails – no phone logs were provided.
Trustee Mary Rocha said she had no emails or social media concerning the incident that happened at Antioch High School.
Trustee Gary Hack said he has not been sent or received emails nor been on social media regarding the Antioch High School Incident.
As of Sept. 15, no Board of Trustee has forwarded any complaints regarding the Antioch High School incident and use of force. There has also been no report out of the meeting with Thorpe and Householder.
The Board will take up the Use of Force issue sometime within the next 60-days.
Note – this did not address public comments made during the meeting nor comments made in support or against the District, simply trying to track down public outrage as claimed by the Board.