OAKLEY, Calif. - The president and the majority of Oakley Union Elementary School Board of Trustees have resigned where they made disparaging remarks about parents on a Zoom call without realizing that their mics were hot and that they were being recorded.
Late Friday, KTVU learned three other board members, essentially the entire board, had submitted their resignations effective immediately. Board president Lisa Brizendine had submitted her resignation on Thursday.
In a written statement, Brizendine apologized for rude comments caught on video, which parents blasted out on social media, catching national attention and heat.
"I am raising a 10-year-old with special needs and having him home during this pandemic, while also holding down two jobs to support my family has been a huge stress," Brizendine said in a statement to KTVU. "I suffer with many of the same things that parents are going through from mental health issues to regression."
She added: "My remark was callous and uncalled for and for that I am truly sorry."
Specifically, Brizendine made a comment about how parents just want their children to return to school so they can have their "babysitters back."
Her stepping down came just before board members Kim Beede, Erica Ippolito and Richie Masadas also resigned. Beede made a hypothetical comment about wanting to F--- parents up who might want to accost her for her decisions and Masadas joked about parents at school buying weed from his brother, a cannabis driver.
"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," their joint statement read in part.
With the majority of the board vacant, the president of the Contra Costa County Board of Education, Annette Lewis, has jurisdiction to appoint Oakley board members until new members are either elected or appointed, per California's education code.
As of Friday night, Lewis appointed two county board members, including herself and Mike Maxwell, to serve as interim Oakley district board members with a third member pending. Contra Costa County Office of Education said a fifth Oakley board seat was vacant.
Oakley Union Elementary School District Supt. Greg Hetrick said further details on moving forward are forthcoming in the next few days. He said in a letter that his focus will remain on students' learning and getting them back in school.
Many Oakley parents said the comments show a lack of respect by the board members.
"It's frustrating for the kids," Candice Acampora said. "It's frustrating for the parents. It's frustrating for the teachers. But we don't speak that way to people, about other people, certainly not at a board meeting!"
A petition had gathered more than 2,000 signatures calling for the members to resign.
A planned protest for Saturday at noon outside Oakley City Hall is scheduled to continue.
"While we are pleased with the resignations of the board members, we believe their comments underscore a larger issue prevalent throughout the state," according to a statement from Reopen California Schools founder Jonathan Zachreson. "School leaders refuse to take parents seriously, showing a blatant disregard for our concerns."
Read the full letter from the superintendent:
Read Lisa Brizendine's statement in full:
I want to address the statement that I made during the OUESD board meeting on 2/17/2020.
In my response to a situation I talked about how some people don’t realize that we, as the board are people, I then made a flippant comment that "they want their babysitters back." I think in some respects, I said that because I too, want desperately for schools to open.
I am raising a 10-year-old with special needs and having him home during this pandemic, while also holding down two jobs to support my family has been a huge stress.
I suffer with many of the same things that parents are going through from mental health issues to regression.
My remark was callous and uncalled for and for that I am truly sorry.
As a 30-year resident of Oakley, I have always championed the kids in the community from Boy Scouts, to PTA service, to my own teaching career.
I became a member of the board to serve, which is what I did for the last four years.
I tendered my resignation because I don’t want to be a part of something that would negatively impact my community.
The students, staff and families deserve the very best, there is much work that needs to be done to reopen our schools safely and I will be praying that we as a community can move past this incident together and that our children always remain in focus.