Antioch School Board elects new leadership, splits on board president, unveils plans to reopen in April

New Antioch School Board President Ellie Householder and Vice President Dr. Clyde Lewis. Herald file photos.

Householder elected president on 3-2 vote, Lewis elected vice president unanimously

By Anthony Dorado

During the Antioch School Board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 16, Antonio Hernandez and Dr. Clyde Lewis took ceremonial oaths of office as the two newly elected trustees on the AUSD Board of Education. In addition, the board elected Trustee Ellie Householder as the new board president, Lewis as vice president, and Hernandez as liaison to the Contra Costa County School Boards Association. The Board also discussed plans to reopen schools in the fourth quarter of the current school year.

New Trustees Sworn In, Again

Hernandez and Lewis both took ceremonial oaths of office, as they were both sworn in formally in previous ceremonies. Hernandez stated that he is, “very excited to be here and to get to work.” He also expressed confidence in the diverse backgrounds of work and education that this Board brings to the community. Lewis thanked those who helped shape his educational development, his family, and expressed a similar enthusiasm about the work that lay ahead of them.

Members Elected to Board Positions

The Board also voted on the election of members to the assignments of President, Vice President, and Board Member Liaison to the Contra Costa County School Boards Association. While the election of Hernandez and Lewis to their respective assignments were straightforward and non-controversial, the election of Householder to Board President was not as smooth. Two public comments preceded the vote, both urging the Board to not consider Householder for the position

The first member of the public to comment complained that Householder had, “repeatedly used bullying tactics to get her way…,” and that she had, “violated numerous board policies, exhibited unacceptable behavior, and has verbally attacked other board members in meetings with her hateful remarks.” The speaker went on to express how Householder had used multiple social media accounts to encourage hate and violence and how she has encouraged students to act in like manner. Lastly, the speaker sought to reinforce her view by looking back to the protest Householder had engaged in outside of former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Joy Mott’s residence in an effort to influence her vote on the acceptance of a DOJ COPS grant for additional School Resource Officers.

The second public speaker offered a sort of apology as they confessed that they had encouraged their family to vote Householder for Antioch City Clerk under the assumption that the appointment would disqualify her for participation on the board. The speaker went on to explain how they felt it was a total conflict of interest to see her as both the city clerk and a trustee on the school board as the Antioch City Council voted to rescind the DOJ grant for additional SROs. Householder had previously been censured by the Board in September on account of her not holding herself to the “highest standards of ethical conduct” for comments on social media.

Nevertheless, as the Board cast their votes, Householder was elected to president on a 3-2 vote, with Trustees Mary Rocha and Gary Hack voting against. In making his motion to elect Householder as board president, Hernandez mentioned her experience in distance learning and how that experience would be vital to the Board moving forward through this pandemic. Neither Rocha nor Hack voiced their reasoning behind the dissenting votes.

Plans to Reopen Schools

Trustee Anello brought forward a resolution to remain in distance learning through the end of the third quarter (April 16, 2021). While the Board unanimously voted in the affirmative on the resolution, it was not without concerns. Lewis expressed his concern with the mental health of students affected by the social isolation that has come about as an inevitable result of distance learning. Superintendent Stephanie Anello ensured the Board that training was underway district wide to provide emotional support for struggling students.

Associate Superintendent Christine Ibarra explained how all the secondary administrators partnered and were trained by the Sandy Hook Promise Initiative in the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System. This system would allow students or teachers to report signs and symptoms of depression and suicide and empower the teachers and police to partner together with the parents and students to give support. She also stated that surveys were being drafted and ready to be sent out to students, teachers, and parents inquiring into the success of distance learning and how they might improve.

A number of public comments were received and voiced in support of the decision to postpone reopening until April 16. Antioch citizen Amy Law said that she, “100% supports Anello’s plan to reopen schools in April.”

Other Matters

In other action, the Board approved the first interim report and the 2020-2021 budget overview for parents as well. The Antioch Education Association’s (AEA) initial contract proposal to AUSD and the initial proposal to the AEA were also approved.





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Ellie Householder & Dr Clyde Lewis

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