California school board resigns after public Webex scandal

The entire board of a California school district has resigned following a backlash from a video that emerged of them berating the school’s parents in a meeting they incorrectly thought was private.

“Uh-oh,” board member Kim Beede said upon realising the Wednesday Webex meeting was public, as a phone screen floods with notifications other people are joining.

“We have the meeting on public right now.”

“Nuh-uh,” Oakland Union Elementary School District president Lisa Brizendine responds in disbelief, shortly before the stream cuts out.

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It’s just a shame they hadn’t realised the meeting was public before accusing parents of being lazy, using drugs, and even threatening to “f**k (them) up”.

“It’s really unfortunate that they want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back,” Ms Brizendine said in one of the videos, posted to Twitter by local NBC news reporter Bigad Shaban.

In another clip, the board’s trustee Richie Masadas tells an anecdote he believes could be the real reason behind the parents’ frustrations that their children’s schools aren’t open.

“My brother had a delivery service for medical marijuana, and the clientele were parents with their kids in school,” Mr Masadas said, eliciting laughs from the rest of the board.

“That’s awesome,” now former board member Erica Ippolito said, though it’s unclear if she was just a fan of the story, or thinks it’s “awesome” that parents can access their prescribed medication easily.

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Ms Beede, who broke the news to the rest of the meeting that it was being watched by the public, had earlier sought to clarify that it was private, before threatening parents.

“Are we alone?” Ms Beede asks the meeting, who incorrectly respond that they are.

“B**ch if you’re going to call me out, I’m going to f**k you up,” Ms Beede said, regarding parents criticising her online.

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Superintendent Greg Hetrick also used the meeting to pitch some moderation technology that might have saved them all their jobs if they’d adopted it beforehand, pitching a tech platform that would allow parents to call in and leave a message in order to ask their question, and cutting them off if they talk for too long.

“If three minutes comes it just cuts them off mid-sentence and you’re done,” Mr Hetrick said, to favourable reviews from the rest of the board, who “love that” and “think it’s a good idea”.

The video stream ended within seconds of the board realising it was public, but the damage was already done.

A petition began circulating, seeking 7500 signatures and the resignation of the board, but the board resigned before the petition reached that number.

“We deeply regret the comments that were made in the meeting of the Board of Education earlier this week,” a statement attributed to Ms Beede, Ms Ippolitio and Mr Masadas reads in a letter from Superintendent Hetrick.

“We realise it is our responsibility to model the conduct that we expect of our students and staff, and it is our obligation to build confidence in District leadership; our comments failed you in both regards, and for this we offer our sincerest apologies.”

The trio said they would be resigning to “facilitate the healing process” and “help the District move forward, returning its full focus to students’ needs”.

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