SUNOL, Calif. - The board president of the Sunol Glen Unified School District filed a restraining order against a woman alleging she harassed and made threats against him and his family following the board’s recent decision to ban special-interest flags on school property.
Ryan Jergensen was one of two board members who voted nearly three weeks ago in favor of only allowing the United States and California flags to be displayed on campus. The move angered the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters to the point that sheriff’s deputies were called in to end the chaotic meeting.
"People are threatening me, my wife and my children, threatening our lives in multiple emails," said Jergensen in his first interview since the controversial policy passed. "That is unacceptable. I will not stand for that."
In the weeks that followed the decision, Jergensen said he has received a handful of hateful comments and death threats by email and on social media.
"I will not roll over to these bullies, to these deranged individuals who are inciting anger and violence," he said. "The U.S. flag is the most inclusive flag there is in the world. It stands for freedom, it stands for liberty, it stands for one nation – together, indivisible. And there is not one student in our school that is not represented by that flag."
Jergensen said the woman he filed the restraining order against wrote a post alleging he and another board member belong to a hate group. That sparked emails and more posts threatening their lives, he said.
"Enjoy your weekend. It might be your last," one email filled with expletives partly read.
Another message shared by Jergensen with KTVU said, "watch yourselves" and "you may need to hide your kids… and anything you love."
In the last few weeks, Jergensen said even four of his five children who attend Sunol Glen School have faced inappropriate or hateful comments.
"I can take people disagreeing, but it’s beyond the pale to start harassing children in an elementary school," Jergensen said. "It is uncalled for to harass my wife. That won’t stand."
Jergensen denies being part of any hate group and said he volunteered to run for a school board position with the intention of improving Sunol's only school.
Jergensen told KTVU he has no political motivations or agenda, and claimed outside politics were brought in by people who wanted to politicize the flag ban and make it a partisan argument.
"Ultimately we need to get down to teaching our children," Jergensen said. "Educating our children in math, reading, writing… not focus on any other distractions."
The most recent school board meeting on Sept. 20 was called with just 24 hours notice and brought about speculation that the school’s longtime superintendent, Molleen Barnes, was getting ousted by board members following her comments in support of the pride flag on campus and the LGBTQ+ community.
Jergensen disputed that was the intention of the meeting but would not comment on any personnel matters.
Ultimately, no action was taken at that meeting, however, documents show Jergensen filed the restraining order against the woman a day earlier.
He said he does not have any intention of resigning, despite some Sunol community members saying they plan to try to recall him.
Barnes and Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Alysse Castro did not immediately return requests for comment on Tuesday about the threats against Jergensen and his family.
"I did not expect this amount of vitriol from people," Jergensen said. "The school should be safe and inclusive for all people – for my kids, for everyone’s kids, without exception."
But the threat still looms heavy on Jergensen's mind and said he is taking safety precautions.
"You never know in this world that we're in these days," he said. "People do crazy things."