The most eventful part of Tuesday’s San Diego Unified School District meeting was supposed to be the first reading of next year’s budget, but disgruntled parents airing frustration over incidents at district schools stole the show and even forced police to intervene before the meeting came to blows.
The recent administration shake up at Lincoln High School and an incident involving police and students at Valencia Park Elementary School were not on the agenda, but parents made sure both topics were discussed.
Jamie Wilson and other parents were left fuming after police were called on their kids two weeks ago. Wilson’s son and his friends were playing with fake money – the bills that had the word “copy” printed on the top left corner were music video props – and it was confiscated.
The bills were sent to Principal Lori Moore’s office and the police were called to come pick the money up. Moore said calling police to confiscate fake money is protocol, and they were not called to discipline the students.
Wilson was upset because police allegedly question her son and other students without their parents being present. She told NBC 7 she didn’t find out about the incident until her son got home.
“My son will have enough encounters with the police being a young black man,” Wilson told the media two weeks ago. “He doesn’t need to have it starting here in elementary school.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, Wilson used the incident as an opportunity to call for change.
“That’s my son. It’s my 8-year-old that the police were called on for having play money at school,” Wilson said from the podium. “You have a 45-pound boy, who you allowed your administration to call the police on. You are grooming our children for the school to prison pipeline.”
Like other parents, Wilson’s fervor took her well past the allotted individual speaking time.
The other non-agenda item discussed at length was the abrupt removal of the principal and three vice principals at Lincoln high School last week. The school district said the four administrators were removed because the district wanted to achieve a higher level of excellence at the school
The move upset some parents at the meeting who claimed the shakeup robs students of relationships with school leaders, and shows proof the district doesn’t have a pulse on the neighborhoods it serves.
“The system is broken because its starts here in this boardroom,” one parent said. “You guys are not listening to the voices, the people of San Diego. The families and the needs of San Diego.”
An argument broke out between supporters of the administrators and supporters of the district’s decision to remove them, and several parents had to be held back by friends and district police officers.
The tension forced the board to adjourn its meeting early, but no agenda items were skipped.
A spokesperson for the district told NBC 7 it’s clear the parents are passionate about the community and the schools, and called it a good sign for the future of the district. He also said the district plans to enlist the community to be part of the search to fill the open positions.