The Poway Unified School District voted unanimously earlier this week to take its school board meetings virtual in response to death threats, vandalism, and rowdy demonstrations at recent in-person meetings.
The board took their vote during a virtual closed-session meeting Monday night. They’re hoping the virtual space can offer safe harbor from what they call threatening crowds.
Problems began with a rally organized by the group Let Them Breathe before the Sept. 9 board meeting, according to a district spokesperson. Let Them Breathe is an organization opposed to mask mandates in schools.
Their founder says the group has nothing to do with anything violent.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
“Let Them Breathe has nothing to do with those threats,” Sharon McKeeman said. “We don’t condone threats or violence in any way.”
On Sept. 9, Poway unified said a small disruptive group pushed their way inside district offices forcing them to postpone their meeting.
Let Them Breathe organizers say the group was separate from their rally and that they weren't involved.
Then at an Oct. 14 meeting, protestors were arrested after refusing to leave the district building after doors were locked, and refusing to wear masks.
The district says protestors have also visited the homes of board members and the superintendent, and says board members and their families are receiving death threats.
One protestor was arrested after allegedly chalking graffiti on the front of the district office, according to the district.
“We hope to be able to open up our board meetings as soon as it’s safe to do so, but until that time staff recommends meeting virtually and online,” PUSD Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps said after the vote.
For now, only the board’s Nov. 18 meeting is scheduled virtually.