The situation with the Fallbrook High School special election has brought to the forefront issues and discussions that we Fallbrookians must have if we are to continue to move forward.
The election of Courtney Hilborn, who was backed by the “Fallbrook Freedom Fighters,” or FFF, and voted in by conservative voters in Zone 1 of the FUHSD, and then her almost immediate subsequent resignation caused a vacancy that the board of trustees had to fill.
The three remaining board members agreed to appoint a provisional member who would serve until 2024, instead of the four-year term for which that seat is scheduled. Jim Dooley was appointed in an open meeting.
However, since Mr. Dooley did not fit the political or religious profile the small group of people were aiming for, three individuals, two of whom don’t even live in Fallbrook, initiated an appeal petition to hold a special election, all because this divisive and ultra-conservative group wasn’t willing to wait 20 months until the next regular election.
Instead, they chose to take the route that would cost the district and its students an enormous amount of money, for which the FFF bears no financial obligation and that cannot be made up elsewhere for years to come. This will hurt our students.
Over half of the student population at Fallbrook High School is Latino. We are fighting for the public education that these students and all students have a right to receive. We have been working for years to ensure that the future of Fallbrook does not look like it has in the past – riddled with racism, bigotry and lack of concern for marginalized families.
Thousands of Fallbrook residents have been working for years and continue to work together to move past the history of racism that is Fallbrook’s and to bring about a more just community. People from all walks of life come together, from both sides of the political aisles, conservatives who reject the agenda of hate and white supremacy and instead choose to respect democracy as it should be practiced and do not want the history of Fallbrook to continue to be hashed about like a rotten egg.
We are people who believe in our public education and other public service institutions and demand that those institutions respect all people and all cultures, and not favor one religion over another nor attempt to force personal agendas on the public. We put our students and their futures first and know that partisan politics and personal ideologies have no place in driving public education policy.
Our high school should be sending young adults out into the world with a culturally and historically relevant education that allows them to thrive in their work, in their play and with their families. Our shared belief in diversity, inclusion and equity drive us to work every day to form a community that exemplifies a strong sense of social justice.
The effort to force this special election on our community is the antithesis of our work. The election is going to cost the Fallbrook Union High School District $100,000. to $225,000. There is no doubt that our schools don’t have enough funding to meet all the needs of our students.
The programs and services our students require must be carefully budgeted and monitored. This special election puts in jeopardy some of those programs and services. That amount of money is the equivalent of the school district’s entire Transportation budget which serves hundreds of students. It also is the budget for 5-6 athletic coaches who also serve hundreds more. And the list goes on.
Did this group care about that? The answer is no. Their personal agenda is more important. That way of thinking is not in the best interests of our high school students nor this community. These are funds that will directly negatively impact the students at Fallbrook High now and into the future, even if the Village News doesn’t think that reporting this fact is timely or newsworthy, it is still the truth. And that is our concern – it should be the concern of every resident of Fallbrook.
The election is going to take place, there is nothing that can undo what 67 people, who may or may not have children in Fallbrook High School, have brought about. Fallbrook needs to know what it is costing us and who is responsible and why.
This is just the latest attack that the FFF has waged on our community. They were a threat to public health when they protested COVID vaccinations and face masks meant to protect the most vulnerable in our community.
It was a known fact that homes in which multi-generations of family members lived, where family members were considered essential workers and were required to continue working through the lockdown and early pandemic, were becoming infected with COVID-19 at a higher rate than the general population.
It is also a known fact that a higher percentage of students who were becoming infected upon schools reopening were living in some of those homes. A disregard for protection protocols for the most vulnerable is a total disregard for those children and their families.
Members of the FFF made openly racist remarks to community members in the audience at high school board meetings, when they attended just to learn about what was happening in this regard. FFF members shouted down people who were exercising their right to make public comments. One member of the FFF even went so far as to physically threaten a member of the public opposing FFF’s position. This is what the FFF is about.
FFF is working to enter into all facets of Fallbrook life. We have reason to believe that members associated with the FFF were involved in backroom deals with Supervisor Jim Desmond’s office to depose a life-long resident of the Fallbrook Latino community who was serving on the CSA 81 parks committee (County Service Area 81). This was done without a vote from the committee, resulting in less representation for the Latinx community on this parks committee. This is what FFF is about.
The Village News has been in FFF’s corner since the very beginning, through the promotion of candidates, such as Eileen Delaney (personally and financially tied to the Village News) and other candidates who have demonstrated a lack of ability and commitment to, or interest in, true public service, which brought us to this wasteful special election in the first place.
And Village News adds to this fiasco through its unapologetic biased and far right-leaning reporting. There was no reporting of the threats, the disrespectful shout-downs, the disruption of public meetings. To you, those were people just exercising their rights to undermine the public education system.
Personally, I was referred to in your paper as an “activist” because I speak up – thank you, even though it wasn’t meant as a compliment by the Village News. You refer to my speaking the truth as “harsh words” but say nothing about someone referring to a native born citizen in racist terms. This is what the Village News is about.
Our position is that voters of all persuasions need to know what and who they are voting for, and what the consequences are when we allow an extremist group to govern our local community’s public agencies.
Our call is to true patriots and all defenders of democracy to stand up to the ultra-conservative factions that are working to take us backwards. Our belief is that when those who claim to be Christians take off the shackles of hate, bigotry and racism and practice the walk that goes with the talk, then we will be a better community that can claim to be on the right side of the fight for social justice because this special election is on the wrong side.
Activist and representative of V.O.C.E.S.