The Fresno Unified School Board meeting ended abruptly and prematurely Wednesday night after opponents of a recent controversial tweet by board clerk Veva Islas clashed with her supporters, several of whom then verbally attacked Administrator Terry Slatic.
Late Wednesday night, trustee Keshia Thomas called out Islas for not taking responsibility for her tweet. Islas, who berated Slatic for his “flaws and inappropriate behavior,” should make his own, Thomas said in a text message.
“Responsibility is responsibility!!! Tonight was truly embarrassing and students were not the focus of this board meeting!!! It doesn’t matter what we do in the community if it’s not supported by our words and actions, are we living up to our moral duties and standards as elected officials?”
Tweeting in the center of the storm
Numerous speakers, some armed with homemade posters, called on Islas to step down on his tweet last week, calling it a “victory” if unvaccinated men infected with COVID-19 are temporarily infertile.
Many of them had already appeared before the council to ask the district to end its support for pop-up vaccination clinics at school sites and not implement a childhood vaccination mandate proposed by the governor. Gavin Newsom.
But Islas’ tweet fueled their anger.
New data confirms that getting vaccinated has no impact on fertility. The study shows, however, that a recent COVID-19 infection can have short-term impacts on a man’s ability to conceive. Although short-term, any limitation of an anti-vaccine’s ability to reproduce is a victory! 🥂👏🏾💉 pic.twitter.com/ZRhwAb6bh7 Genoveva Islas (@VivaciousVeva) January 27, 2022
Critics say the tweet was hurtful
Several people, telling Islas’ Twitter account, @VivaciousVeva, called her “vicious” for appearing to celebrate the anti-vaxxer’s ability to reproduce, even temporarily.
Among the critics was Andrew Fabela, a candidate for the seat of administrator of Fresno High Area 5. Fabela said the tweet was harmful for people like him and his wife, who had struggled for years to have a child before the birth of their daughter.
As resident Cindy Harris spoke, she noticed Islas was smiling and shaking her head and told her, “Stop it.”
When a verbal scuffle broke out between an opponent of vaccination and an Islas supporter at the back of the council chamber, council president Elizabeth Jonasson Rosas called the meeting’s first five-minute recess. When she resumed, she reminded the crowd of the need to maintain civility and respect the speakers on the podium.
Public comment resumed after a discussion of future school calendars and budget proposals for the 2022-23 school year.
Support for the islands
Half a dozen speakers said they support Islas for the hard work and dedication she has shown, not only to the school district as administrator of McLane High Area 4, but also as an advocate. of public health who worked tirelessly to bring vaccinations to rural parts of the county.
None of them addressed the tweet directly.
Josh Fulfer, who has made a name for himself as a Trump supporter and local right-wing antagonist, accused Islas of bringing his “brown berets” to the meeting in an attempt to intimidate vaccine opponents.
He also berated Islas for the “Brown is beautiful” and “Brown Power” graphics on his Twitter page. @VivaciousVeva is her personal Twitter account, not the account she maintains as a candidate for the Fresno Unified School Board. His seat is up for election in the November ballot.
This outraged speaker Rafael Avitia, who blamed racism for the criticism of Islas. He also said anti-vaxxers are “killing people with their ignorance.”
Avitia then spoke about the city’s history of violence against people of color. When Slatic reacted with a laugh, Avitia angrily yelled at him, “American terrorist right there, white man scared of brown women, white man scared of black women, American terrorist, American terrorist!”
This prompted Jonasson Rosas to summon a second five-minute suspension. When the meeting resumed, administrator Valerie Davis said she wanted to hear from the last two members of the public who had registered to speak. Jonasson Rosas reminded the public to stay civilized.
The next speaker was Jessica Mahoney, a former Fresno Unified bus driver and longtime critic of Slatic, who spoke about “difficult parents” and then proceeded to talk about the failure of efforts to recall Slatic. Slatic could be heard off-mic telling Jonasson Rosas “do your job” and stop the speakers from slandering him.
A debate then broke out between Slatic and Jonasson Rosas over whether the speaker had violated board policy with the verbal attack on him, as audience members began to cheer and whistle.
As Jonasson Rosas attempted to restore order, Islas could be heard saying aloud, “I have attended many speakers who were offensive, I have allowed them to speak as is their right”, and Mahoney has repeatedly shouted: “I have the floor! Navy, shut up! I have the floor!
Jonasson then adjourned the meeting before the last speaker reached the microphone.
Board meetings out of control
It was the rowdiest meeting since August, when Slatic’s self-proclaimed stonewalling of the board of superintendent’s communications portion of the meeting brought then-board chairwoman Valerie Davis, to adjourn the meeting. His action led to the board’s vote in October to censure him a second time.
After Wednesday’s meeting, Slatic told GV Wire that Islas told people she was sorry for the tweet, but instead of deleting it, she blocked who can see her tweets on her personal and campaign Twitter accounts.
“If she blocks someone who isn’t her best friend on her social media and she won’t delete what she’s telling people she knows is wrong and shouldn’t have , boy, we have a big-ass problem with his understanding of right and wrong and taking care of the people in his district.
Islas did not respond to GV Wire’s request for comment on his tweet.