The story behind the Fallbrook Special Election and "Fallbrook Freedom Fighters"
Last updated 5/17/2023 at 2:23pm
No one knew what to expect in March 2020. My husband, a high school teacher, and myself, a homeschool charter teacher, did what every other parent did at the time. Kept their kids home. We are parents to five children.
As time went on, and the virus promised to not negatively affect children, we ventured out, careful to protect those older than us. We watched as normalcy resumed in the classrooms in other states, and statistics rolled in that negated the need for masking children.
We started to grow concerned about the harmful effects of the shutdowns and distance learning. Another mom, who is an ER nurse, and I organized a five-day protest in front of Bonsall Elementary that grew each day as we voiced our
concerns that our children should go back to school.
We had no idea the negativity we would face as we advocated for our children with clear research and reasonable facts. Finally, the Bonsall Unified School District opened in person.
The next school year, the parent group grew. We were watching children’s voices and parents' voices fall silent to a world of politics and bureaucracy. We worked as a group to reach out to all elected officials. We participated in a parent organized statewide sit-out, and we even hosted a rally, with over 300 Fallbrookians, that got us on the news.
KUSI asked if we would set up an Instagram page. So a few of the other moms called themselves the Fallbrook Freedom Fighters. The page was where we could rally more concerned parents to attend school board meetings where we were met with a constant barrage of excuses.
It was as if all our elected officials were chained to the government. (Our concerns are now validated by the naysayers of the time, including Anthony Fauci who is walking back many of his statements about school closures in 2020.)
Behind closed doors, everyone voiced their concerns with the shutdowns and the masking, and the negative effects on kids, but when it came time to actually stand up for kids, they were all spineless. They stood by and watched statistics like self-harm was up 339%, overdoses were up 119%, anxiety was up 94%, and calls to suicide were up 800%.
All for a virus that did not affect children negatively and for which vaccines were readily available.
After watching the 2022 Super Bowl, the governor maskless in a room with Magic Johnson, who was immunocompromised, I knew the facade had to end. I told my kids that they didn’t have to go to school with a mask if they didn’t want to. They and about 10 other children at their middle school went maskless to school for seven weeks. They once again fell behind in school, and it was hard to watch, but they were also empowered.
Finally, after two years of being stifled by school board members and administrators, they had a voice. It was contagious. Students from other parts of the state did the same thing, and they made the news, and finally the mask mandates were lifted.
That summer, many parents worked together to try to get school board members in place that would be a voice for families. We held town hall meetings and went to conferences. We used Instagram as a vehicle to give interviews and information out for local candidates. We worked with other grassroots groups to try to find the best representatives possible and advocated for school board members like Courtney Hilborn.
We initially had another mom, Kelly Hansen, available to run for the Fallbrook Union High School Area 1 position, but Courtney assured us that she wanted to run, so Kelly said that she would run for the Fallbrook planning group. Finally, election day came, and she beat out Jim Dooley for the board position. Fallbrook Area 1 voted for a parent to represent them.
At this time, someone sent me a book that was on the shelves at Fallbrook that talked about a story of a transgender child who was a six year old giving blow jobs and other inappropriate books that highlighted the lives of LGBTQ kids in a sexually explicit manner.
I knew about the California Healthy Youth Act from 2016, and that it stemmed from a very left-leaning ideology that set out to teach sex ed in a very explicit manner. I have read the state standards. Stemming from this act are very raunchy and sexualized books that are explicit, and inappropriate for children that were placed in school libraries.
I had no idea these books were on the shelves of our local libraries. I researched the best way to advocate against these books and filled in a sheet to send to the librarian per school board policy. I honestly didn’t think much of it because
I assumed the X-rated material would be abhorrent to any educational professional and assumed it would be an easy decision for a committee to make. That was not the case.
The committee voted for one book to be removed, but not the book that detailed a 6 year old giving blow jobs to neighbors. We asked, why can’t we have books about LGBTQ children that highlight commendable representation like engineers, or members of the LGBTQ community who make a difference or give back. Why are books about LGBTQ so sexualized? More California problems.
Soon, we found out that Hilborn stepped down from her position. We were very upset about this, but happy to know that Kelly Hansen, a local mom of four, would be willing to stand in and be a parental voice for kids on the board. Again, we did not think much of it because Kelly would have been a reasonable replacement for the board position.
On Feb. 13, we planned to head to the school board meeting. At this time, the high school board members decided to have a special meeting time when no parents would be present to speak on behalf of Kelly. At this meeting, local Democrat Party members were made aware of the time change and spoke on behalf of Jim Dooley to the board. Two parents of high school students tried to get to the meeting early to speak on behalf of Kelly and were turned away.
The school board trustees voted 2-1 (parent rep Paul Christensen the only one for Kelly) to vote for Dooley. Later, at this board meeting, we advocated to have the book removed. Dooley’s first vote as a non-elected board member was in favor of keeping the book, stating that a book about a child giving blow jobs to neighbors was “a part of life.”
We need board members who will listen to the concerns of parents (and also who will listen to members of the LGBTQ community who also voiced their concerns with the book) and who are in touch with the needs of the students at Fallbrook.
Imagine also our surprise when we were met at the board meeting with resistance from older women’s rights activists and professors who spoke out in resistance to parents.
We learned that many who spoke against the parents were from the Fallbrook Democratic Club who also spoke out to have Dooley on the board.
California Election Code 5091, offered hope. We had 30 days to petition Area 1 for a special election. After going back and forth between the county Office of Education and the Registrar of Voters, and speaking with lawyers, we finally after 16 days of research and creating a legal petition and had 13 days to gather 65 signatures from Fallbrook Area 1 to ask for a special election. On the petition, we had to indicate the cost of the election as well.
In all of the advocacy over the past few years, we have never seen a response like we did for this special election. We had almost no media report about it, and word of mouth spread like wildfire. We had people from all over Fallbrook, hundreds of people messaging, calling, and asking to sign the petition for a special election.
We had two weekends and five volunteers, and in 13 days, we got 175 signatures from Area 1.
So, Fallbrook is headed to a special election. That could have been avoided if the board had given Kelly Hansen a chance and given a democratic ear to the people of Area 1. Her husband, Leif, grew tired yet empowered after standing by and watching all that came to fruition over the past three years, and is deciding to run for the board position instead of his wife, to be a voice for families in this town. Leif Hansen, dedicated husband and father of four, a firefighter, a coach, and man of conviction is running for Area 1.
We are a group of parents, unfunded and unsupported by any financial group or activist group or political group.