Op-Ed: Antioch School District Trustee claims she’s being marginalized, ethnic intimidation, bullying by Board President

AUSD Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White. Photo by AUSD.

Dear Editor:

As the only African American School Board Trustee for Antioch Unified School District I can no longer remain silent during this pandemic. President Diane Gibson-Gray continues to undermine my ability to perform my fiduciary duties as a board trustee. For the past four months, the AUSD Board meetings have been virtual, and President Diane Gibson-Gray intentionally orchestrates ethnic intimidation and instrumental workplace bullying practices virtually. This is the time to recognize humanity during COVID-19 as we witness the racial strife in America and in East County. As President of Antioch Board of Education leadership is paramount. President Gibson-Gray continues to disregard leading our Board and work collaboratively. She exhibits incompetence as a leader. Parents and teachers have emailed me inquiring why for the past four months the Board Trustee faces are not displayed. I want to inform the public that the Trustee Householder and myself have been intentionally blocked.

As a parent and as a Board Trustee I am deeply concerned that the disregard of addressing safety for our students and staff is appalling. The first virtual meeting on April 8th (see agenda) President Gibson-Gray placed on the Agenda listing under Items for Information/Discussion/Action items requested by the Board None (Due to the current pandemic, only essential items will be placed on the agenda until the shelter in place is lifted.) This pandemic is a public health crisis and not addressing as a Board Governance team the COVID-19 policies and procedures is seriously disturbing.

My fellow Board Trustee, Ellie Householder and myself were not allowed to ask any questions based on her authority. The entire Board did not vote on this absurd “protocol”. This is a constant pattern with President Gibson-Gray not able to be a leader pertaining to safety for our school district. In January, Jonathan Parker was gunned down and the family continues to grieve.

During the pandemic, the safety precautions are more critical than ever. Trustee Householder and I have requested for a Board Workshop Reopening Plan for July and we are denied numerous times during this crisis.

During the month of July, I sent many emails to President Gibson-Gray specifying a Board Workshop is crucial to schedule prior to our August 12th Board meeting. Her response was to check with our Superintendent. Once again President Gibson-Gray is not a leader for our Board. The Superintendent works for us. Listed below is what I specifically requested:

1) Start with Advisory Committee (including Counselors, Teacher, VP’s)

2) An Updated Organizational chart of Certificated and Classified Staff

3) Health and Safety Guidelines

4) PPE Projected Expenses

Antioch Unified School District deserves a leader during these unprecedented times to reassure our students, staff, and administration to provide safety and transparency.

Stay safe,

Crystal Sawyer-White MS

Board Trustee

Antioch Unified School District

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