Temecula Schools President Joseph Komrosky Loses Recall Election: Early Results

Temecula Valley School Board President Joseph Komrosky – a religious conservative who pushed through policies to limit discussions of racism, ban the display of Pride flags and require disclosure of the identity of gender from students to parents – narrowly lost an electoral recall, according to preliminary results. Tuesday evening.

Komrosky was elected as part of a three-member conservative majority in November 2022. Upon taking office near the end of that year, the bloc immediately propelled the 28,000-student Riverside County school system , at the forefront of the country’s culture wars.

Two policies – restricting the teaching of critical race theory and informing parents of students’ gender identification – have resulted in ongoing litigation.

Another attempt, to reject a portion of the state’s curriculum tied to the contributions of LGBTQ+ residents, resulted in a threat from the state to fine the school system, prompting local officials to significantly back down .

If Komrosky were to be recalled, it would end a 2-2 streak that has existed since Komrosky ally Danny Gonzalez resigned in December after announcing he was leaving the state. The five-member school board won’t be complete until after the November election.

“People are tired of the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric,” said Preston Miller, 21, a recall supporter and local high school graduate. “They are fed up with the racism we have seen within the school board. We stood up to them and we won. I am so proud of our community, the place where I grew up.

Komrosky was not immediately available for comment. But parent Ryan Waroff said recall supporters misframed the debate. Komrosky was elected because residents “wanted him to take a stand against some state interference in local decisions regarding school boards,” Waroff said.

Ultimately, Waroff said, the fight to defeat establishment forces, including state government and teachers unions, was an uphill struggle.

Komrosky’s supporters supported his efforts to impose Christian moral values ​​and combat what they see as harmful sexualization of young children — causes they believed most parents would support.

Rappel’s supporters viewed Komrosky as wasting valuable education funds to pursue legally questionable, divisive, unnecessary, and mean-spirited policies.

Tuesday’s vote was only for the District 4 seat of Komrosky, representing the eastern and central part of the district.

The majority of Komrosky’s board had followed a political model that has come to characterize that of religious conservatives elected to local offices, including the once-dormant school boards that have influence over what is taught to big kids and what the way they are taught in public schools.

Komrosky has brought his religious beliefs to the forefront – his biography on the social media platform Full-time university professor teaching logic and critical thinking, and a servant of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

But his policies were also meant and presumed to have broad appeal.

“Parents’ rights have been revoked and ignored,” he wrote on his website opposing the recall. “I will vigorously defend the rights of the family and the rights of our children when it comes to their safety and education. I will oppose unnecessary school mandates that harm families.

For him, this included a parental notification policy intended to alert parents when their children had a gender identification sign other than that on their birth certificate.

Komrosky and her allies say they believe parents have a fundamental right to be involved in all aspects of their children’s lives, especially on issues as important as gender identification.

Opponents argue that blanket parental notification policies violate student privacy and civil rights in state law and the education code — and that the near-universal coming out of transgender students to parents would put some children in serious danger.

The legality of the parent notification policies remains in question. The Chino Valley and Temecula school boards approved essentially identical policies — and each district has been sued. California Atty. The general. Rob Bonta sued the Chino Valley Unified School District, and a coalition of parents, students, individual teachers and the teachers union sued Temecula Valley.

The judge in the Chino Valley case found the policy substantially illegal in a preliminary ruling. And Chino Valley subsequently approved a revised policy, which it hopes will achieve the same goal while still meeting legal requirements.

Another judge upheld Temecula Valley’s policy, a decision that is under appeal.

That lawsuit also alleges that the majority of the board has shifted toward LGBTQ+ topics and students — citing the board’s refusal to adopt a state-approved curriculum for elementary schools that includes a brief optional passage in fourth grade material on the late San Francisco County Supervisor Harvey Milk. the state’s first gay elected official, assassinated in 1978.

A fine threatened by the governor. Gavin Newsom pushed the board to approve the program, which had been recommended by teachers and administrators and was consistent with state learning standards.

The problem is not over. The board voted to move this fourth-grade lesson on the civil rights movements in California to the end of the year, to allow time to find an “age-appropriate curriculum” that could be replaced with ” sexualized teaching topics.”

The lesson in question includes paragraphs emphasizing that LGBTQ+ individuals and groups fought for civil rights, including the right to marry, but does not discuss gender.

Temecula’s litigation also seeks to overturn the district’s policy of restricting the teaching of critical race theory, an academic legal framework taught at some colleges and universities that examines how racial inequality and racism have been systemically entrenched in American institutions.

Critical race theory has been another cultural war powder keg across the country. Temecula’s list of banned concepts embodies common conservative claims, including that teachers use critical race theory to make white students feel guilty for being white. Many education experts consider this description of how teachers handle the topic of race to be inaccurate and incomplete.

Temecula is apparently the only California district facing litigation over its critical race theory policy.

But culture war issues are playing out in other Southern California school districts, including Orange Unified and Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified in Orange County and Murrieta Valley Unified in Riverside County. Similar ideological struggles have played out in the Rocklin Unified School District and Dry Creek Joint Elementary School, both north of Sacramento, as well as the Anderson Union High School District in Shasta County.

Times staff writer Ian James contributed to this report.

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