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Days after being threatened by $1.5 million fine, Temecula Valley school board adopts new curriculum

TVUSD holds emergency meeting to address rejection of curriculum
TVUSD holds emergency meeting to address rejection of curriculum 03:12

Temecula Valley Unified School District board members held an emergency meeting on Friday in light of a controversy involving rejected school curriculum and Governor Gavin Newsom. 

The controversy, which stems from the material's mention of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected into political office in California, and allegations that he was a pedophile. 

Friday's meeting, which was called after the governor imposed a hefty fine on the district, saw the debacle finally reach an end, with board members voting to adopt the curriculum. 

On Wednesday, the district voted 3-2 in favor of rejecting a state-endorsed social studies curriculum that mentions gay rights activist Harvey Milk, marking the second such occasion that the district denied the material. 

Gov. Newsom issued a statement in which he announced a $1.5 million fine facing the district in what he called a "willful violation of the law." Additionally, he plans to supply the students with the new textbooks, and shouldering the district with the $1.6 million price tag. 

In a press release, Congressman Darrell Issa told Newsom to "stop bullying Temecula" while also showing his support for parents and the school board.

"I stand with the parents of Temecula," he said in a statement. "The School Board is doing right by listening to concerned parents and educators and trying to work together to appropriately curate the studies that will be presented to the youngest of students." 

TVUSD Board President Joseph Komrosky, who has been trading rhetorical jabs with the governor over recent weeks, issued a statement following the imposition of the fine, claiming that the district was "not done with its work on the curriculum for the 2023-2024 school year."

"Despite our continuing work and commitment to core values, Governor Newsom has taken unilateral action to intervene in the middle of our work without even contacting the school district first to understand what the school district may be further doing to meet all of the curriculum needs of our students. What he calls inaction we see as responsible considerations for all of our community's viewpoints as we come to a final decision and with time left to do so," said a statement from Komrosky. "To that end, I will be calling a Special Meeting of the Board for July 21, 2023, to consider a culmination of our work on this issue and the potential adoption of curriculum that meets all state and federal mandates. We do not appreciate Governor Newsom's effort to usurp local control and all that will apparently result from these tactics is a waste of the taxpayers' money.  We sincerely hope he has a 14-day return policy with the publisher of the books he just purchased."

During Friday night's meeting, board members first voted on whether to keep the district's current 17-year-old curriculum in place, which included textbooks from 2006. 

Finally, on the third vote in the last two months, board members voted to adopt the new curriculum. 

They will still look into ways to adopt the new curriculum, but hope to implement different material to replace mention of Milk, while still meeting the state's mandates. 

Following the decision, Governor Newsom issued a statement via Twitter, which read: 

"Fortunately, now students will receive the basic materials needed to learn.

But this vote lays bare the school board majority's true motives. This has never been about parents' rights. It's not even about Harvey Milk — who appears nowhere in the textbook the board voted to censor. This is about extremists' desire to control information and censor the materials used to teach our children. It is history itself that offends them. This debate in Temecula is not about local control. It is a national ideological crusade that remains hellbent on silencing diverse communities and erasing our history. 

Demagogues who whitewash history, censor books, and perpetuate justice never succeed. These board members still have a civil rights investigation to answer for."

Board members first voted to reject the curriculum back in April, immediately catching the attention of the governor, as well as creating divide amongst TVUSD parents about the extremely contentious topic. 

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