Gov. Newsom goes after Temecula Valley Unified School District, calls board member 'radicalized zealots'

Today Gov. Gavin Newsom, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and state legislative leadership took initial steps to override the Temecula Valley Unified School District's rejection of state-approved social studies textbook and curriculum. 

“Cancel culture has gone too far in Temecula: radicalized zealots on the school board rejected a textbook used by hundreds of thousands of students and now children will begin the school year without the tools they need to learn,” Newsom said in an announcement detailing the actions. “If the school board won’t do its job by its next board meeting to ensure kids start the school year with basic materials, the state will deliver the book into the hands of children and their parents — and we’ll send the district the bill and fine them for violating state law.”

The actions came after the TVUSD, led by board president Joseph Komrosky voted 3-2 to reject the new social studies curriculum. Newsom's announcement said, "Komrosky asserted false claims about the instructional materials" even though it was "recommended by teachers representing every elementary school in the district and overwhelmingly supported by parents and community members."

The textbook, one of four standard programs approved by the state, is routinely and widely used across hundreds of school districts in California.

During the tumult at the TVUSD, the board also fired their superintendent, Jodi McClay, on June 13. The board's McClay firing comes after they banned the textbook that mentioned gay rights champion Harvey Milk, whom school board president Komrosky referred to as a pedophile.

Following the school board’s vote, Newsom and state legislative leaders sent a letter to school districts statewide highlighting the legal obligations of districts and joined California Attorney General Rob Bonta in demanding information and answers from the board. The administration also began working with the Legislature and Superintendent Thurmond to advance Assembly Bill 1078 to strengthen state law to ensure students in California have access to adequate instructional materials. 

Among other provisions, AB 1078 would: 
  • Require a two-thirds supermajority vote for a school board to remove instructional materials or curriculum; 
  • Establish a process for the California State Department of Education to purchase adequate standards-aligned instructional materials for a district, if the district has failed to provide them for students; and
  • Institute a funding penalty for school districts that do not sufficiently provide standards-aligned instructional materials.
“I am glad to join in this action with Governor Newsom today and thank him for his leadership in calling for Temecula’s school board to reverse course to prevent further harm to students,” Thurmond said. “Inclusive education promotes the academic achievement and social development of our students.  School Districts should not ban books in California, especially as it harms students of color and LGBTQ+ youth."

During the tumult at the TVUSD, the board also fired their superintendent, Jodi McClay, on June 13. The board McClay firing comes after the school board controversially banned the textbook that mentioned gay rights champion Harvey Milk and their school board president Komrosky referred to the assassinated politician as a pedophile.

Increasingly the Governor and Attorney General are aggressively pursuing local government and now school districts that run afoul of state law. Last spring Bonta filed a lawsuit against Elk Grove for what they say was violating fair housing law over their July 2022 rejection of an affordable housing project. 

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