California Imposes $1.5 Million Fine on School District Over Rejection of Harvey Milk Materials
California Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced a hefty $1.5 million fine imposed on the Temecula Valley Unified School District. This decision came less than 24 hours after the district’s conservative board members voted against adopting a state-endorsed curriculum that included a short biography of LGBTQ+ rights leader Harvey Milk.
Newsom had previously warned the school district that if they didn’t approve the learning materials, they would have to bear the $1.6 million shipping costs associated with sending the materials to them. And true to his word, the fine was handed down, along with the responsibility for shipping costs.
In a statement, Newsom expressed his disapproval of the board’s decision, accusing them of “willfully violating the law” and going against the will of parents. He further criticized the board members for forcing students to rely on an outdated textbook from 17 years ago. The governor was adamant about ensuring compliance with state laws, stating that the materials would be delivered to students as intended.
The president of the school board, Joseph Komrosky, had publicly stated his intention to reject any curriculum shipments. However, some board members who voted in favor of adopting the curriculum now back Newsom’s actions. Steven Schwartz, one such board member, acknowledged that rejecting the curriculum was a mistake, likening it to playing with fire.
On the other hand, Allison Barclay, another board member, expressed her dismay at the massive fine, emphasizing that the district’s students deserved access to the new curriculum. She hoped to work with the state to find a solution that would not burden the district financially and negatively impact students.
Newsom did not hold back his criticism of the conservative board members, accusing them of prioritizing their political agendas over their educational responsibilities. He made it clear that California would ensure the students in Temecula received the appropriate materials, adhering to state laws.
The controversial school board meeting lasted nearly six hours and became chaotic at times. Three board members, backed by a conservative political action committee tied to an evangelical church, voted against adopting the supplemental materials for grades one through five. This decision resulted in impassioned speeches from attendees, many of whom were not from the school district. They strongly opposed any inclusion of content related to sex or homosexuality in elementary education.
Meanwhile, proponents of including Harvey Milk biography in the curriculum argued that it was a crucial part of California’s history and a testament to the rights of underrepresented communities. They pointed out that any mention of Milk would be limited to supplementary materials and wouldn’t disrupt existing lesson plans.
As the state steps in to provide the necessary curricular materials, the three conservative school board members are facing a recall campaign backed by educators and residents who believe they are unfit to govern. The dispute surrounding the curriculum remains a contentious issue in the district.