OAKLEY, California -- All members of a San Francisco Bay Area school board resigned days after they were heard making disparaging comments about parents at a virtual board meeting they didn't realize was being broadcast to the public.
The four members of Oakley Union Elementary School District Board had stepped down by Friday amid growing outrage that began with the board's Wednesday meeting. Before the meeting officially began and unaware the public could see and hear them, they used profanity and made jokes about parents just wanting a babysitter or to smoke pot in their home.
The incident garnered national attention and widespread condemnation.
The district's superintendent, Greg Hetrick, announced the resignation in a letter Friday and said that Contra Costa County education board members will replace them in an interim capacity, the Mercury News reported.
"We deeply regret the earlier comments that were made in the meeting of the Board of Education earlier this week," a joint statement by now ex-board members Kim Beede, Erica Ippolito and Richie Masadas says. "As trustees, we realize it is our responsibility to model the conduct that we expect of our students and staff, and it is our obligation to build confidence in district leadership; our comments failed you in both regards, and for this we offer our sincerest apology."
Beede, Ippolito and Masadas join board President Lisa Brizendine, who announced her resignation Thursday.
Trustees were awaiting the start of the meeting when they began discussing parents' letters and social media posts about reopening schools.
Beede defended herself against a parent who chided her on social media for going to a party during the coronavirus pandemic after declaring it wasn't safe to return to school.
"I wasn't doing anything bad - I honestly don't care about that part - but are we alone?" she asked the other trustees. "B--, ..If you call me out, I'm going to f-you up."
"Sorry, that's just me," Beede added.
After some laughter, Brizendine chimed in to commiserate with others about the growing criticism they've faced over closed schools, suggesting parents really want schools to reopen so they get their babysitters back.
Masadas suggested parents wanted their free time for other reasons.
"My brother had a delivery service for medical marijuana. The high clientele were the parents with their kids at school. When you have your kids at home, no more (inaudible)," Masadas said, clasping his hands on his forehead as others chuckled in the background.
The remarks were met with swift, widespread condemnation, calls for the board's resignation - including from Oakley's mayor - and coast-to-coast coverage. A petition calling for the board to resign quickly garnered thousands of signatures.
Superintendent Greg Hetrick released a statement that read in part:
Dear Oakley Union Elementary School District Family,
I want to inform you that Board Members Kim Beede, Erica Ippolito, Richie Masadas and Lisa Brizendine have submitted their resignations from their position on the OUESD School Board.
The statement continues:
This was a difficult decision, but we hear the community's concerns, and we believe yielding to your request that we step down will allow the District to move forward. Please do not let our failure in judgement cast a shadow on the exceptional work that our teachers, administrators and hard-working employees are doing for the students of this District. They deserve and will need your support as you move forward.
I want you to know that it is a tremendous privilege to serve as the Superintendent of the Oakley Union Elementary School District. Oakley is and has been a special place to me and it is truly a community that loves its children and wants what's best for them. With that responsibility, I am committed to returning the attention to student learning and getting our students back in school. This unfortunate situation will not discourage or detract me from working to build back the trust in our community and return our students safely back to school as soon as possible.
I will be providing you with another update as to our next steps in the coming days. I want to say thank you for all that you do and I truly believe that working together, we do make a difference. Have a great day.
FULL VIDEO: Oakley school board caught making controversial comments about parents