More controversy follows Sunol school board’s decision to ban Pride flags

A special meeting of the Sunol Glen School Board raised more controversy Wednesday, a week after voting to ban certain flags on district property.

The meeting was called with just 24 hours’ notice and only two of the three board members present. It comes following a divisive decision to restrict all flags flying beyond the state and national flags.

"This meeting today, which really looks rushed and kind of closed is another way to stop Sunol residents from participating," said Erin Choin with Sunol Glen 4 All. "There will be consequences for our board members."

Board President Ryan Jergensen and board member Linda Hurley both voted for the flag ban last week with Ted Romo left as the lone vote against the resolution. He was not present at Wednesday’s special mid-afternoon meeting.

"We’re sad to see the board continue to break trust with staff and our community," one parent said during open comment.

In June, the Pride flag was flown on the school’s flag pole at the direction of Superintendent Molleen Barnes. She said someone had stolen the flag off a school fence and staff wanted to ensure students felt welcome and safe.

Barnes made several public comments backing the LGBTQ+ community and was critical of the board’s 2-1 decision to restrict flags at the school.

Many parents, teachers and residents became upset after learning of Wednesday’s agenda contained several closed session items including the district’s legal counsel and the superintendent.

"Stop the bullying," said Sunol resident Susanna Chow. "This is not behavior we should roll model for our children."

Dozens of parents and educators voiced their support for Barnes and shared their fears she may be getting ousted for making critical comments about the flag ban decision.

"Superintendent Barnes is really the glue of this entire school and she’s been championing all the efforts that have taken place here," Choin said.

Barnes was missing from the meeting and did not return KTVU's request for comment.

Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Alysse Castro said she is concerned politics and personal agendas may be getting in the way of students’ best interests.

"All I want in public education is just and joyful learning," she said. "The more we bring politics in, the less we create opportunities for joyful learning in the classroom."

Jergensen said in the meeting "we are here for the children" and called on those "on all sides of the issue" to listen and have open dialogue in a kind, safe way.

But the very meeting was also called into question over whether it was legal or in violation of the district’s bylaws.

"This meeting has been called to order in violation of California state statutes," one parent proclaimed.

A couple of parents threatened taking legal action against the board to reverse decisions made if the meeting rules weren’t properly followed.

After 20 minutes of public comment, the two board members went into closed session for more than a half hour and returned and said there was no action to report.

The meeting ended after two hours with questions lingering over the future of Superintendent Barnes and the district’s legal counsel.

"Sunol residents will take action on this," Chion said. "They have to answer to us, be it a recall, be it electing them out."

Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU