Antioch School Board censure of Householder fails with Lewis abstaining

During Wednesday night’s school board meeting in the Deer Valley High School theater AUSD teachers and staff wore shirts with the words “You are not Recognized” mocking Householder for her comments to Trustee Mary Rocha and Superintendent Stephanie Anello at a previous board meeting.

Wanted to discuss hiring a board consultant, first; board agrees to hire consultant to help with governance and evaluating the superintendent

By Allen Payton

Antioch School Board Trustee Mary Rocha moved forward with her effort to censure Board President Ellie Householder, also at the request of leaders of the recall against the embattled trustee, during the board meeting, Wednesday night. Their first in-person meeting in 20 months was held at the Deer Valley High School theater.

“From the time you were voted onto the school board you have been nothing but disruptive,” Rocha said reading prepared remarks, offering her reasons for the censure vote. “You encouraged protesters who tried to intimidate a council member to vote a certain way.  In fact, not only did you encourage it you participated in the protest.”

“You encouraged a protest at the Antioch district office which resulted in some of your friends breaking into the building, destroying district facilities and pushing and shoving that resulted in two board members and one employee getting injured,” she continued. “You were censured for further encouraging friends to intimidate board members in order to push your agenda. You posted and applauded your friends on social media for screaming ‘f… Gary’, ‘f… Mary’, ‘f… Diane’, repeatedly.”

“You participated in a taped forum when the moderator spent over an hour saying horrible things about our superintendent, many which were lies, and rather than correct him or offer the truth you said, ‘I like where this is going’,” Rocha stated. “Most recently you posted a video on your social media that included the faces of our students and insinuated staff had mistreated the student, yet you never asked about the facts.  If I were the parent, I would be furious.”

“Finally, you call a ridiculous special meeting asking the superintendent to violate employee and students’ privacy rights as well as board policy. You continue to call special meetings requesting an attorney and when speaking with staff costing the district money,” she added.

Rocha then made a motion to return with a formal vote to censure Householder. Trustee Gary Hack seconded the motion.

Public comments were then heard, most of them in support of the censure of Householder and three who spoke against it. Several district teachers, staff and other members of the public in the audience wore shirts with the words “You are not Recognized” mocking Householder for what she had said to both Rocha and Superintendent Stephanie Anello when they tried to speak during a previous board meeting. (See related article)

“During board meetings there is no dictator. I think Ellie should stay away from social media…and study up on Robert’s Rules of Order. That might be a better use of her time,” said Teacher of the Year Crystal Van Dyke.

“Trustee Rocha is not acting alone,” said Lindsey Amezcua, who is one of the recall leaders.

“This biweekly decent into nonsense,” said another speaker describing the board meetings in opposition to the vote to censure.

Willie Mims said, “I’m totally against this. You should look into the mirror and ask did you respect this young lady? No, you did not. I’m up here to support Ellie Householder.”

“There’s so much to unpack with this,” Householder said. “We don’t really have a policy on this. I just don’t think this belongs on our school board. I don’t think this should be a discussion we should have, here. We’re not in the business of punishing each other.”

“I call for the vote,” Rocha said.

“It’s an unpopular and uncomfortable situation when you’re talking about punishing someone,” Board Vice President Clyde Lewis said. He compared the experience of a young man he’s been mentoring and had “been counted out. But with the proper support…he’s going on to college.”

“This is a conversation. There is validity to the feelings of those who support the censure,” District 1 Trustee Antonio Hernandez said. “There have been a number of comments about coming together and working together as a board. Some of our best moments have been during closed session. I wish we could share those with the public. There are some deep issues on this board that we need to work through.”

“It’s not in good faith that we censure someone on the board and then deal with hiring a board consultant. If we censure her, we still have to work with her,” he continued. “It’s just so hard to untangle things and it’s hard…when we accidentally mix in the more personal things. The best that I can say, I hear you.”

“I think I’ve made it very clear,” said Rocha. “You’ve used your media…you’ve criticized our staff…I’ve brought things and I’ve been ignored.” She also mentioned Householder posting the video of the student being held down by security and Antioch police officers at Antioch High School, last month.

“Your chairmanship has not been a positive one,” Rocha continued. “I admired you when you were a trustee. I don’t admire your tactics because you put yourself above us. This has been an issue that has been brewing and brewing.”

“I do understand that my leadership style is sometimes heavy handed at times,” Householder said. “But…this board has gotten way off the rails…with the district leading this board…and I’m not going to apologize for it.”

“The part about the video, that’s totally valid,” she said. “It seems like every time we disagree it becomes like really extreme with removal or a censure.”

Householder then asked community member Melissa Case, who had spoken out from the audience several times, to “please leave. You keep having these outbursts” and asked for security to remove her.

“I really have to caution…it has to be a substantial disruption that prevents the board from doing its work,” said Superintendent Stephanie Anello. Householder dropped the matter and Case remained at the meeting.

“I just think my leadership style just doesn’t resonate with the board. But I don’t think I have been disrespectful of other board members,” Householder continued, speaking about the censure vote. “After the last censure…I changed. It’s been a month since this happened (referring to her posting of the video of the student being detained).”

The vote then failed on a 2-2-1 vote with Lewis voting to abstain, to which groans could be heard from those in the audience.

“I think that this conversation should happen after we discuss having a consultant,” Lewis explained.

“When you became the chair it changed you,” Rocha added, speaking to Householder. “I’m willing to have a consultant. But I wanted to clear the air and have the public understand what it’s like for you to be the chair.”

Board Consultant

After discussing three individuals to be hired as a consultant to assist the board in governance and the evaluation of the superintendent, the board members agreed to hire one and gave direction to Anello to do so. The board will make a final hiring decision during a future meeting.

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AUSD staff wearing You Are Not Recognized shirts mocking Householder

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