Education

La Mesa-Spring Valley School Board Member Charda Bell-Fontenot claims reopening schools is ‘white supremacist ideology, slavery’ during Board meeting

Written by Urvi Sakurikar

We’ve heard some ridiculous remarks from Democratic officials regarding racism and white supremacy, but some recent statements by a La Mesa-Spring Valley School Board member may take the cake.

In a recorded zoom meeting, La Mesa-Spring Valley School District Board Member Charda Bell-Fontenot claimed that wanting to reopen schools “seems like a very white supremacist ideology to force people to comply with and I’m just letting you know… that’s what slavery is.”

In response to this completely out-of-bounds claim, another board member noted that 70-80% of parents were in favor of reopening schools, to which Bell-Fontenot shot back by implying that only Caucasian parents want their children back in school. 

“Who are the 70 to 80 percent and where are they? I would like to know geographically from which school sites, which language groups, and how we conducted this feedback,” she fired back.

Not only is it deeply irresponsible to imply that wanting to end the suffering of children in virtual learning is anything close to “slavery,” but it shows the lack of maturity and the extent to which some adults will go to avoid going back to work. 

School district board members are elected by the parents and expected to put children’s wellbeing above all. However, Bell-Fontenot’s irrational comments and confrontational attitude reveal that she is not what parents’ believed her to be. 

The term “white supremacy” is thrown around so casually nowadays that it has almost lost its meaning. 

By definition, white supremacy constitutes the belief that white people are superior and should dominate at the expense of racial minorities. To name someone as a white supremacist, or insinuate that someone believes in white supremacist ideas, is a serious accusation and should not be taken lightly. 

In addition to the insulting nature of the term, the issue of school reopenings has nothing to do with race, and should not be construed as such. In fact, Bell-Fontenot’s assumption that only white parents want their kids back in school is racist in itself, and the only racist comment that was made during the meeting. 

I encourage you to watch the full video, which can be seen here.

Bell-Fontenot made several other alarming statements including saying that the board does not owe parents, or anyone, a decision on opening schools. She also claimed that none of the other board members “know what they’re talking about” and got defensive when the superintendent disputed her claim.

Bell-Fontenot should immediately resign and think twice before using such powerful rhetoric when it is not called for, or even relevant. 

Comments like those of Bell-Fontenot heavily contribute to the racial divide the country is facing right now and confuse the issues, as well as compromise the credibility of the school board as a whole. 

In order to move forward from the racial tensions and the pandemic, people like Bell-Fontenot need to be taken to task for reckless speech and misrepresenting the facts. 

Parents want their children back in schools, and scientific studies have revealed time and time again that virtual learning is not effective and can cause long-term negative damage to the mental and physical health of students. 

Many students are currently in their formative years, and cannot afford to have their education compromised by the politics and radical ideas of certain school board members.

Photos via LVM Schools/iStock