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Ire over Obama speech action draws hundreds to meeting

Union Tribune (2009-09-16) Michele Clock

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Ire over Obama speech action draws hundreds to meeting

By Michele Clock

Union-Tribune Staff Writer

2:00 a.m. September 16, 2009

Sixth-grader Sophia Bacting got a hug from her mother after speaking to the school board. - K.C. Alfred / Union-Tribune

LA MESA — Parents, teachers and students told the La Mesa-Spring Valley School Board at a raucous meeting last night that they were disappointed and in some cases ashamed of the board's decision to not show President Barack Obama's education speech to students live last week.

Some angrily called for the resignation of the three board members — President Penny Halgren and trustees Bob Duff and Rick Winet — who voted to not show the speech Sept. 8, the day it aired, despite apologies and words of regret from the three.

The board last night voted to formally accept their apologies.

“There must be accountability for your actions; your tears of apology are a waste of time,” said Fred Neubecker of La Mesa, a parent of two district students.

Hundreds of people attended the meeting, held in the auditorium at Parkway Middle School in La Mesa to accommodate an unusually large audience.

A couple of the dozens of speakers who voiced opposition to the board's decision asked for trustees to record apologies to play to students. One held a sign that read, “Recall, No Censors.”

Some speakers argued race was a factor in the decision. Some speakers directed particular anger toward Winet, who until late last week had held firm to his position that the White House's request to show Obama's speech and suggested student activities were “a direct assault on the Constitution.”

In a special Labor Day session, the five-member board voted to prevent teachers from showing the speech in the district's 21 schools the day it aired. Instead, the speech was recorded for later viewing. Trustees Emma Turner and Bill Baber opposed the motion. Halgren crafted it after several others failed, including one to ban the speech entirely.

The board and Superintendent Brian Marshall received hundreds of e-mails from parents, with some arguing the board majority had been swayed by politics and wasn't showing enough respect for the president. Some said they believed Obama's race may have played a role in the decision. There were calls for board members to resign.

Christina Hicks of Spring Valley, PTA president at the district's La Presa Elementary School, said this week that parents remained angry despite the apologies.

“I know I feel like it's a day late and a dollar short,” Hicks said.


Michele Clock: (619) 542-4577;

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Title Ire over Obama speech action draws hundreds to meeting
Publisher Union Tribune
Author Michele Clock
Pub Date 2009-09-16
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Topic revision: r1 - 2009-09-16, RaymondLutz
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