Originally posted to SDRostra
By Amy Reichert
It was just another California Lockdown Tuesday on the 344th day of the “Coronaverse” when I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw…
“You won’t believe what the Vice President of the La Mesa-Spring Valley School Board is saying right now at the board meeting!!”
You see, that night was the LMSV Board meeting, and the main topic was when to reopen the school district after being shut down for almost a year.
I typed as fast as I could to my friend…
”Get your cell phone out and start filming!”
My friend commented again about the ramblings of the board member, and I typed again as fast as I could…
”Get out your cell phone and start filming NOW!!”
Over the next few days, my friend’s cell phone video went viral, and La Mesa was in the national news cycle again.
On February 23, 2021, Chardá Bell-Fontenot, the Vice President of the School Board, said reopening schools was “white supremacy ideology” and compared reopening schools to “slavery.” Ms. Bell-Fontenot also REFUSED to give a date to reopen schools for broken-hearted and defeated parents and students who had been trapped on screens for almost a full year.
The outrage from LMSV parents was instantaneous. La Mesa-Spring Valley is not a “White school district.” La Mesa-Spring Valley is actually very diverse with a vibrant student population of English learners and healthy ethnic diversity. The outcry from parents about Bell-Fontenot’s hurtful statements was from parents of every race and walk of life. We felt unjustly accused. She said horrible things without evidence about her fellow parents in the district.
At the very next Board meeting on March 4, I stood shoulder to shoulder outside of the District offices during a press conference with many parents who were deeply hurt by Bell-Fontenot’s accusations.
The TV news cameras were rolling when a woman walking her German Shepherd started shouting at us. We were all shocked and every camera turned around to capture her words…
“It’s NOT racist to want kids in school! Black people want their kids in school too, it’s not just a white thing!! Education is the way out of poverty!”
Every bone in my body told me to RUN after her and HUG her.
As I ran to her I said, “Can I hug you??” She smiled and said, “Yes!!”
I think what I find particularly healing is this hug happened where the heart of the La Mesa riots took place. This woman has a courageous heart. I will always be grateful for her voice, speaking out for our kids and speaking out against the LIE that reopening schools is racist.
Other people also tried to call moms and dads in La Mesa racist. One failed candidate for San Diego City Council named Wendy Wheatcroft, later investigated by the City of San Diego Ethics Commission for campaign violations, posted this word salad about us being Q supporters, “boogaloo,” and “threepers.” First of all, I have no idea what any of that is, and second of all, I am not going to Google it.
The truth is not important to people like Wheatcroft. She even went so far as to claim the moms who spoke out for our children to reopen schools were just puppets of a group of men who were directing us.
I did reach out to Wendy as a woman, as a mom, but of course, I never heard back. Instead, she turned around and doubled down and even she admits how crazy her made up story is in her post.
Oh Wendy, Wendy, Wendy.
A lot of people asked me why I was even involved in reopening schools. After all, my fourth grader had been safely back in school, full-time and in-person since September 8 — at a private school.
You see, after my son finished first grade, my husband and I made the painful decision to withdraw from La Mesa-Spring Valley schools. We didn’t want to leave, but we had no choice. The reason? Actually, there were many. My son was almost a year behind. The school he attended, Murray Manor Elementary, was the largest in the school district with over 900 students.
There were other reasons too…
I had a sit-down meeting with one of the Assistant Superintendents and I asked her, “Is it true that the school curriculum will include books targeted to students as young as Kindergarten that will make them question their sexual identity at age 5, when the vast majority 99.9% of 5-year-olds never even have a thought of whether they are a boy or a girl?”
She answered in the affirmative. She confirmed that the curriculum I was concerned about was indeed coming and coming soon to a school near us.
There were other issues as well and we had to make the best decision we could for our son.
We decided to leave public schools even though we were not rich. One of our cars had 200,000 miles and still kicking, and the other had 150,000 miles but no air conditioning. I drove that car in summer 100 degree plus heat so my son could afford to go to the least expensive humble (not fancy) private Christian school in San Diego County. During the hottest summer days, I mumbled things I would rather not repeat in writing about the LMSV District, LOL.
Leaving a school that was failing my child was the best thing we ever did. My son is now ahead of grade level and thriving!
However, I could not turn my back on my community. So, I decided to join with local parents to reopen schools even though my son didn’t attend there any longer.
What happened next on Tuesday, March 16 in front of the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District was pretty shocking…
Parents got together to address the board about reopening schools. We had to do so outside of the District offices because we were not allowed inside.
The teacher’s union was there too. The leader of the union handed out signs and red ribbons.
All was peaceful until I started sharing the grim statistics from Rady’s Children’s Hospital about the horror stories they were seeing due to children not being in school…
- 28 children in specialized clinics (suicidal thoughts and needing emergent assessment/planning/care). Typically there are approximately 5-10 of these cases each month.
- Rady Children’s Hospital has a Child Abuse Pediatric program where expertly trained child abuse pediatricians handle cases of suspected child abuse. Children’s Hospital child abuse pediatric consult teams have had an 82 percent increase in consult cases since lockdowns began.
- Suspected child exploitation has almost doubled.
- Tips to the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force almost doubled to 5,885 in 2020.
- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has experienced a 98.66 percent increase in online enticement reports.
That’s when a blonde mystery woman turned on two deafening bull horn sirens and directed them towards 50 parents and scared young children as young as five years old. Some of the union teachers joined in by honking car horns and trying to shout me down … not to mention denying me my right to free speech.
Who was that mystery blonde woman?
None other than union-endorsed candidate for the 79th State Assembly April 6 Special Election, and middle school teacher Shane Parmely.
I reached out to Parmely — pronouns “they, them, theirs” — but she never responded to my requests to chat. I hope she feels bad for what she did to the parents she claimed she wanted to represent. Fortunately for us in the 79th District, Parmely lost the election.
But we parents won!!
If it were not for the outrageous statements of Bell-Fontenot and the terrible actions of Parmely, we might not have our kids in school in La Mesa-Spring Valley.
So, thank you, Chardá. Thank you, Wendy. Thank you, Shane, from the parents of La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools. We stood up to the school bullies and we won for our children.