ORANGE COUNTY, CA – Los Alamitos School Board Trustee President Marlys Davidson was caught on a hot mic, saying “F*** You” to a parent in a clip that went viral. In a national environment where many arrogant moments have been caught at school board meetings, this added to the growing library of trustees who have been consistently dismissive and outright rude to parents. It is no surprise that we had an election result in two blue states on November 2nd, flipping red, that indicate a frustration with the hubris regular everyday Americans encounter when dealing with their elected officials.
On Monday, November 1st, a day before the national election day, Lauren and many other parents gathered in front of the School Board offices with handmade signs and petition clipboards to demand Marlys Davidson’s resignation. Organizer Staci Mueller said “The FU comments made by the school board president have prompted parents to be here today to demand immediate resignation.”
I also interviewed co-organizer Matt Simmons at length, who cited many issues to propel him to activism and his concerns about the public schools. All he wants is for the school board to question their actions. “We need leadership, number one. They need to take responsibility for their actions. No one can force you to harm children, and they are. It’s not Newsom, it’s our school board that ultimately make that decision. That’s the type of people in power now: the ones that only care about power. They don’t listen, and they won’t listen, until they’re removed”
The trustees’ strong reaction to even listening to their constituents, was the common theme at the gathering. Surprisingly and unexpectedly, the School Board President Marlys’s sister and a friend (pictured) showed up to “protest the protestors” but they first zeroed in on Lauren Roupoli, the parent who was on the receiving end of the “FU” slur, a few days prior.
The gathering of parents was significant because in California, an attempt to recall the governor failed and many in power have, in turn, perceived anyone questioning their agenda to be powerless due to the political lean of the state. Perhaps Lauren drew the most ire because the recent clip went viral. Nationally, it added to the school board incidents around the country, and has re-tested arrogant politicians’ ability to dismiss their constituents, spurred by netizens.
Lauren says, “She started questioning what I was doing here. She said that I was not a nice person and she laughed at me while I cried. I cried because we are trying to fight the system and protect the children. She threatened me and said that I should watch out for what I say because I might want to pull it back by December. Lauren motioned a pullback with her hands while she conveyed the story to me. When Lauren subsequently asked for clarification, Marlys’s sister denied her own words.
The hubris is what has brought the trustees to the point where they can outright cuss out the parents and community they work for or to make passive aggressive comments like “oh, here we go” before Chinese American parent Clare Chu went up to the mic to address the board. Clare was also at the gathering and shares, “Most of my life I have pursued democracy and freedom from China, to Hong Kong to coming to the US in 1998. I cannot accept Critical Race Theory to be put into the curriculum. This is a peaceful and beautiful neighborhood, we don’t want this kind of hatred here. In my eyes, it’s one nation. I am American, and we identify as Americans, regardless whatever color they are.”
When asked about how the board was handling differences in opinion, Clare made some powerful points: “Most importantly, Marlys being a teacher and now a trustee, that speech and attitude showed she took it personally, when instead, trustees should be humble and listen to the parents. I wish our board members could listen to us and coordinate with us. Instead, we cannot even give them comments or criticism. The first board meetings to get public comments on CRT and mask mandates – people who supported their agenda were put first to speak and any opposition was put last.”
There is now a new special interest group and it’s the parents. For too long, their interests have been put aside while the teacher unions have become increasingly political. Today, we sit at a breaking point where parents are fed up.
Marlys Davidson was elected in 2018 during a progressive wave which coincided with a shift towards more leniency around voting, allowing ballot harvesting. Just three short years ago, she was forced to pretend. In fact, on her official trustee bio, it says:
“In 2010, Marlys was honored to be selected our district’s Teacher of the Year. While on special assignment for the district, she facilitated the creation of Common Core Language Arts units, designed and presented professional development for teachers on every campus, and worked closely with administrators to provide instructional networking. After retiring in 2016, she worked as an education consultant to our district.
Collaborating over the years with educators, parents, community members, and students in our district has taught her that we are all better when we value and share what each one of us can bring to the table. She encourages and values all communication from parents, students, community members and educators.”
Marlys has shown she has been a good foot soldier for the teacher’s union, probably explaining her rise from teacher to “consultant” to trustee. But it’s clear that the union does not have the growth and interests of children and parents at heart. In 2018, she at least, espoused care. In 2021, she has gotten so comfortable in her elected position of power, she felt she could cuss out or make offhand comments about the parents on her hot mic. One can imagine what she says behind closed doors. She can apologize for her comments all she wants but she has clearly not lived up to “encouraging and valuing communication” from parents and the community and by bringing her sister and friend to a peaceful protest to threaten a mother, that tells you how sincere that apology was.
The bottom line is the lack of humility. The reason is an increasingly intolerant political class that has infiltrated the school board and many local positions like city council, but people are slowly waking up. This is why Edward Durr, a South Jersey commercial trucker, was able to oust the Senate Leader in New Jersey, with only $153 spent by his campaign. This was a clear show of the power of the grassroots and more people engaging the civic process, specifically mama and papa bears.
California may actually be late to the movement but on a local level, I am already seeing the seeds of frustration grow. Stay strong, Matt, Clare, Lauren, Staci and many other parents pushing back on the arrogant trustees in Los Alamitos.