Gov. Gavin Newsom Wednesday announced that the state would be entering into a contract to provide books to Temecula Valley Unified School District elementary students after the board again failed to adopt a new social studies curriculum for first through fifth grades.

“The three political activists on the school board have yet again proven they are more interested in breaking the law than doing their jobs of educating students — so the state will do their job for them,” Newsom said in a statement. “After we deliver the textbooks into the hands of students and their parents, the state will deliver the bill — along with a $1.5 million fine — to the school board for its decision to willfully violate the law, subvert the will of parents, and force children to use an out-of-print textbook from 17 years ago.”

Newsom’s announcement came less than a day after the TVUSD Board of Education again voted 3-2 to reject the district piloted and teacher-recommended TCI Social Studies Alive curriculum for grades first through fifth, leaving educators to continue to work with the current curriculum from 2006. Board members Allison Barclay and Steven Schwartz voted, once again, to adopt the curriculum as recommended.

“I wish we would do something for the children of this district, because since this board has been in power we have done nothing to improve the education of this district, not one single thing except waste a heck of a lot of money on nonsense,” Schwartz said. “I apologize to our staff and our teachers who are so disrespected by this board, that we do not recognize their expertise and education. It’s a really, really sad, really sad state of affairs.”

During the meeting, Komrosky addressed Newsom’s then-threat of sending books to for the district to use for the upcoming school year stating that he had directed the district’s interim superintendent to send the books back if they arrived.

“Governor, you do you up there and will do us down here — parents and patriots down at the local level,” he said. “I have already instructed the superintendent, if books come from shipping and receiving to say no. We’ll ship them right back. This is not your school district. This is ours.”

Interim Superintendent Kimberly Velez clarified that in order for the district to reject state-supplied curriculum it would have to be put on a future agenda and voted on before that action could be taken.

The decision came following a two hour board workshop on curriculum, a two hour closed session, and a more than five hour board meeting in which a number of TVUSD parents and teachers spoke in favor of the curriculum, with many noting how engaging the material was for their students.

“I’ve taught everything from first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth now, so I really feel confident that this textbook would be fun, engaging, make them want to learn about civics, geography, our history, all the important stuff to make them realize how great our country is,” Annalisa Bujas, a fourth and fifth grade teacher, said. “And so I’m hoping that you’ll see that it’s a good resource for us.”

There were also a few parents who spoke out against the curriculum and in support of the board, along with a woman who traveled from Glendale to attend the meeting and former city council candidate Sonia Perez who called Schwartz an agitator and TVUSD teachers “wicked.”

“You stand with the wicked teachers and the demonization of the books that they want to bring into the school district,” Perez said. “You stand with them.”

The board’s latest vote comes after months of controversy caused by its three newest members — Board President Joseph Komrosky, Board Clerk Jennifer Wiersma and Board Member Danny Gonzalez — who immediately voted to ban critical race theory from being taught in the district, despite the fact that it has not ever been taught in the district. 

Most recently, the board’s conservative majority voted to fire award-winning Superintendent Jodi McClay. The move was highly criticized by parents, community members and educators and spurred a recall effort to remove Komrosky, Wiersma and Gonzalez.

During the meeting, the board unanimously approved the teacher recommended California Studies Weekly Kindergarten social studies curriculum piloted in the district during the 2022-23 school year.

The full meeting can be watched in three parts on YouTube. The first part, which can be found here, includes the workshop and entry into closed session. The second part, which can be found here, includes the first few minutes of the public meeting following the closed session. The final part, which can be found here, is the remainder of the meeting. The public meeting following the closed session was broken into two parts due to technical difficulties.

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Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.

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